Women’s March encourages diversity, civic engagement

Neelam Bohra

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America, the Women’s March on Texas Capitol organization rallied on the south steps of the Capitol on Saturday. 

“There were signs being raised, everyone was cheering and people were either agreeing very loudly or booing when they disagreed with something,” said Iulia Tothezan, international relations and global studies junior. 

The march featured 24 speakers, including former state Sen. Wendy Davis, Austin City Council member Alison Alter and state Rep. Celia Israel, according to the march’s website. Jill van Voorhis, Women’s March on Texas Capitol president of the march, said she planned the event to embrace women of all backgrounds. 

“We really wanted to focus on making this very intersectional in terms of bringing in women to speak who may not be a big name but are a minority, too,” van Voorhis said. “It’s the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. But that was just for white women, so we wanted to focus on bringing all women into it, too.” 

Van Voorhis said she wanted the march to recognize all of the issues facing women of minority backgrounds.

“We looked at a lot of the marches from the past,” van Voorhis said. “We really wanted to make sure we’re driving that point home and focusing on everything from violence against women to immigrants’ rights and the ways in which these affect women.”

Van Voorhis said she also wanted to use the march to encourage civic participation, and she invited voter registrars to achieve this goal. 

“We really wanted to encourage (people) and talk about how people’s voices are their votes,“ van Voorhis said. “We want people to leave feeling more like an activist.” 

Van Voorhis said students will play a large part in the 2020 elections, so their involvement in the march is crucial.

“This is such a critical year because it’s an election year; it’s the census,” van Voorhis said. “Students are a huge part of that, and they probably don’t realize it. Getting students to understand they’re critical to democracy is important.” 

Celestina Sunny, a member of the march’s fundraising committee, said she did a lot of outreach to organizations on campus to encourage student attendance. 


“In figuring life out in general, (students) feel a little bit jaded by the political process because we’re dealing with so many different issues in our own lives,” government junior Sunny said. “Students have the most powerful voice. We need to step up and take the lead.” 

Sunny said empowerment would help all women but especially those in college. 

“I still have to carry pepper spray during the night because I never know what’s going to happen, and I have this constant fear that if something does happen, I might not be believed,” Sunny said. “Those are some very harsh realities, and this rally at the Capitol is all about knowing that our voices can’t be silenced.” 

Tothezan said hearing from all of the speakers inspired her. 

“People were talking about immigrant rights, the way we can save our planet, the way we can get our youth more active,” Tothezan said. “It wasn’t one specific issue. Every person there was able to resonate with an issue, and women started the discussion, but everyone is continuing it.”