Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo was quiet Wednesday, despite the several hundred women, men, children and dogs gathered there, some holding signs with messages such as “Nevertheless, we persist” and “The future is female.”
The silence on the plaza was conducted in solidarity with Wednesday’s “A Day Without a Woman,” a nationwide event organized by the Women’s March on Washington and held the same day as the United Nations-designated International Women’s Day. Similar rallies, as well as work and shopping boycotts, were held around the country to demonstrate the importance of women to the economy.
The goal was to recognize “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system — while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurity,” according to the national Women’s March website.
The San Luis Obispo chapter of the Women’s March organized a march from Meadow Park to Mission Plaza that started Wednesday morning, culminating in not one, but two moments of silence.
Dawn Addis, one of the chief organizers of the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo, said the local chapter planned the event as a way to stand in solidarity with women and other communities who don’t have a choice in their silence.
When asked why she participated, Erica Baumann tapped her rainbow-colored sign that said “Grow Humankindness.”
“It’s all about showing up for each other,” she said. “We have to lead with love.”
Baumann added that she felt the event was “very, very unified” and positive.
Jane Granskog, a retired Cal State Bakersfield professor, said she marched to “support my sisters.” Granskog said she arrived at Meadow Park early to bring as many donations as she could for the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County.
Granskog, who taught women’s studies classes for many years, said she thinks this moment in time is “a critical juncture” in history.
“This is a time when it’s really, really important to stand together and make our voices heard,” she said. “We need to stress peace, compassion and understanding. And that means listening — even if we don’t agree with the opinions — to see if we can find a way forward that benefits all.”
Quinn Brady, who is pregnant with twin boys, brought her 2-year-old daughter to the moment of silence. Brady said that after the presidential election, she felt fearful for her children.
“I recognize the power of raising conscious, aware, empathetic humans and the impact that can have on the world,” Brady said. “This (Trump administration) has the power to divide us, but it’s giving us the power to come together.”