Three guest speakers took to the podium at the “Women’s Rally and Call to Action” on the Falmouth Village Green on Saturday morning, January 19 as sunshine gave way to overcast skies and temperatures dropped.
“Repeat after me,” former candidate for state Senate, Deborah A. Rudolf, urged the crowd of mostly women who attended the rally: “I have a voice; I speak my truth. I have a voice; I speak my truth, I have a voice; I speak my truth,” she chanted as the crowd repeated.
“Sharing our stories is how we connect to one another,” Ms. Rudolf said. “So much of our strength comes from our stories. We need to figure out where we meet.”
“It’s not about voting and then walking away,” guest speaker Emily Norton, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association, said. “If our government is letting us down, our job as citizens is to hold our government accountable. Your elected officials need to hear from you,” she said.
Ms. Norton believes that the most dangerous issue the world faces is that of climate change. The people most at risk of suffering from the effects of climate change, she said, are women.
“When extreme weather happens, women are more likely to die than men,” she said. “Over 70 percent of the dead in the Asian tsunami of 2004 were women.”
Ms. Norton quoted statistics closer to home, stating that after Hurricane Katrina, 80 percent of those left behind in the Lower Ninth Ward were women. Two-thirds of the jobs lost after Katrina were lost by women.
“As climate change brings storms, floods, droughts, disease, and heat waves, women will be disproportionately harmed, particularly women of color and low-income women,” she said.
“On the bright side,” Ms. Norton said, “women get this, and the more they have a seat at the table, the more they will try to solve the problems.”
Ms. Norton asked the audience to reflect upon the fact that while 20,000 men have served in the Massachusetts State House, only 197 women have.
“Here in Falmouth, there are a whole lot of women who are marginalized in a lot of ways,” Penelope Duby, Chairman of the Upper Cape Cod Women’s Coalition, said in a previous interview.
“We’re building community,” she said at the rally before introducing the speakers. “It’s important not to separate ourselves from one another.
“It’s not enough to ‘like’ something on Facebook or come to a rally,” Ms. Duby said; rather, it’s about women “finding their power to speak out” in order to bring the “necessary voices” to the table.
Ms. Duby stated that next year, 2020, marks an important time because it is the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
“We still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in this country,” she said. “People think we do, but we don’t.”
Guest speaker Susan L. Moran, chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen, suggested that people with opposing views look for the common good. “Don’t preach,” she said, “just reach out a hand” to try and find common ground.
Those who attended the rally represented a broad spectrum of social justice concerns.
Nan Garrett-Logan of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence wore an orange Massachusetts Coalition To Prevent Gun Violence shirt. “We wear orange because it is the color you wear in the woods so you don’t get shot,” she said.
State Representative Dylan Fernandes stood with a member of Engage Falmouth as they listened to the speakers.
John F. Staropoli, a physician from Boston, attended the rally with his partner, who works in Mashpee.
“It’s clear that women’s rights set the tone for progress throughout the world, from education to the environment. We’ve seen that throughout history. Societies whose women are liberated are the most successful,” he said.
Pat Perry, Elaine Clements, and Joanne Patterson of Orleans had planned on attending the Boston Women’s March, but the bus from the Cape was cancelled, so they came to Falmouth. “We had to be somewhere,” they said, referring to the anniversary marches happening on January 19.
Their respective signs read: “No more hate, No more bias, No more collusion, No wall, No more Trump;” and “Liberty, Justice, Freedom, Peace for all;” and “Return the Kids.”
Marie Elder of Harwich and Vicki Linnell of Osterville wore bright purple 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East scarves, representing the largest healthcare union in the country.
Aime Kortis-Brooks carried her 7-month-old baby, Laurel Brooks, in a carrier with a sign attached that read: “Trump is holding this family hostage for a wall. Shame on him.”
Nurse practitioner Aaron R. Maloy attended the rally because he is advocating for nurse practitioners in Massachusetts to be able to perform surgical abortions. “The nurse practitioner field is a female-dominated profession. Massachusetts is one of the few states that prevents them from being able to perform abortions, and it is blatantly sexist,” he said.
Mr. Maloy pointed out that women on Cape Cod—about 100 of whom have an abortion every month—face an undue burden by having to travel to Attleboro or Boston because there is no abortion provider on Cape Cod.
After the rally, the group moved across the street to First Congregational Church to sign postcards to legislators and pick up information on a variety of topics in support of women.
“I am excited to be here,” Ms. Rudolf said. “This is how we find our voices, by showing up.”
Two famous women were quoted by the speakers during the rally:
Writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde, who dedicated her life to confronting the injustices of racism, classism, and homophobia, was quoted as saying, “When I dare to be powerful; to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
And Abigail Adams, wife of the second president of the United States and mother of the sixth, said in a letter to her husband, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
Across the street from the narrow end of the village green, a few Trump supporters held signs. Police cars separated them from a larger group of rally supporters standing on the green facing them, also holding signs.
The rally came to a peaceful end as the predicted snow began to fall.