CONCORD – Thousands of men and women from across New Hampshire converged in Concord today to be a part of the New Hampshire Women’s Day of Action & Unity.
They rallied in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and with more than 100 Women’s Marches across America. Those in attendance stood together to listen to speakers and to support the progress made for human rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice, and reproductive justice.
More than a dozen organizations came together from around the state to send a message to elected officials in Concord and Washington, D.C. During the morning Rally for Action, the crowd overflowed onto the streets that surround the New Hampshire State House, cheering speakers from diverse backgrounds.
Speakers included Dr. Dottie Morris, author Jodi Picoult, Nancy Glynn, Rep. Caroletta Alicea with her daughter Stephanie and grandson Samuel, Katie Robert, Janice Kelbe, Eva Castillo, Ilyssa Sherman, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, State Representative Jessica Ayala, State Representative Allison Nutting, and State Representative Amelia Keane.
“We in New Hampshire are not in the habit of going in reverse,” said author Jodi Picoult. “We have the backs of those who are less fortunate–who may be struggling for health care, for environmental rights, for racial equality, for a fair wage, for justice. We are in this together. And we know that change does not come from the top down, but from the bottom up.”
“When we think we are at our weakest moments more often than not they are really our strongest. We are strong and brave as individuals but together we can be a formidable opponent to make positive change happen,” said Nancy Glynn, a mom who had to return to work shortly after the death of her premature son and is now working on paid family and medical leave insurance legislation in New Hampshire.
The Women’s Day of Action & Unity was an inclusive day of unity with events and trainings throughout the afternoon. The women-led effort was designed to bring together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds to affirm their shared humanity and recognize that women have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, organizers said.
Nearly a thousand attendees took part in facilitated “Listening Lunches” at locations near the Statehouse in which participants focused on cultivating curiosity about the views of others and building communities with diverse ideas and perspectives while not losing one’s own identity.
The Unity Gathering capped off the day emphasizing the importance of forming unlikely coalitions to do the work of advocating for justice. There were musical performances throughout by Jack Bopp and Emilia Halstead as well as speakers representative a diversity of experiences and faith traditions including: Maggie Fogarty, Gayle Murphy, Nancy Rockwell, Mumtaz Hussein, Larry Brickner-Wood, Miguel Picanco, Grace Alden, the Hon. Alida Millham, and Sandra Plummer. More than fifty members of SongWeavers ended the day by leading the crowd in singing Not Going Back.
The Day of Action & Unity was a collaboration of organizations including: ACLU of NH; American Friends Service Committee Program of NH; Equality Health Center; Every Child Matters in NH; Granite State Progress; Greater Manchester NAACP; Joan G. Lovering Health Center; League of Conservation Voters; League of Women Voters New Hampshire; Moms Clean Air Force; Moms Demand Action; MomsRising; NASW-NH; New Futures; NH AFL-CIO; NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy; NH Citizens Alliance for Action; NH Council of Churches; NH Public Health Association; NH Sierra Club; NH Unites; NH Women’s Foundation; NH Young Democrats; People for the American Way; Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund; Rights & Democracy – NH; The Multicultural Center at Saint Anselm College; The Waysmeet Center of Durham; the YWCA of New Hampshire; and the Zonta Club of Concord.