Fighting for Women's Equality

The Next 4 Years for Women and Girls: ERA is Ready with New Initiatives and Boots on the Ground

February 7, 2017 | by

The next four years will require a dedicated strategy to protect the legal rights of women and girls. But ERA will not simply be on the defense – we are preparing to go on the offense with legal advocacy, direct service, and community mobilization.

We kicked off 2017 by participating in the legal training event “How to Be a Good Ally,” which was sponsored by the Bar Association of San Francisco. The all-day event brought together over 1,200 attorneys and covered an ambitious curriculum of advocacy topics from immigration rights to religious freedoms, reproductive rights to the dignity, equality, and economic rights of all races and genders. Executive Director Noreen Farrell participated as an expert panelist on the legal rights (and unmet needs) of women and girls in a panel entitled Combatting Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Thanks to Kelly Dermondy of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, for organizing this incredible event!

As we ramp up our legal advocacy and direct service programs, ERA is also mobilizing communities to stand up and defend our civil rights. On January 21, we organized over 500 supporters for The Women’s March in Oakland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Ahead of the march, ERA hosted poster-making parties, organized women and supporters from sister-rights groups, such as the disability rights community, to join us hand-in-hand in these marches, and attended Oakland planning meetings. Executive Director Noreen Farrell and Legal Director Jennifer Reisch were honored to be chosen to give the opening speeches at the Oakland March Rally and did a great job of firing up the crowd.

Estimates indicate that over 100,000 people participated in the Oakland March, 100,000participated in the San Francisco March, and 500,000 participated in the Washington, D.C. March. The Equal Rights Advocates’ San Francisco contingent was so large the organizers invited us to LEAD THE MARCH!

Almost all of the Women’s March lead-organizers were 100% volunteer-based and for many of them this was their first time organizing a mass grassroots effort. This applied to many marchers, as well. An inspiring number of women woke up to this current era and said: “Hell no. Not on my watch.”

The energy and sheer visual power and inspiration of the day cannot be denied. Equal Rights Advocates is in it for the long-haul, and we look forward to addressing the toughest questions with both our long-time supporters and women new to standing up for their rights or the rights of other women. 

In the words of the Oakland Rally volunteer-organizer:

“I was orphaned at 7.I was bullied [starting at age] 9 and [harassed] by the KKK at [age]12. Raped at 17. I survived.  Every –ism that could be thrown . . . racism, sexism, old boyism. Survived. Not only survived, thrived. My haters have always been my greatest motivators. . . . Today I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors. I stand for all that cannot be here. I stand as we come into and uplift [. . .] our community.”

–Carolyn J. Woodson, business owner

Equal Rights Advocates was so honored to stand with our community and all those who share our vision of equality for all. Thanks to Alison Mata and Hazel Streete, Oakland co-leads, and all of the millions of women, both who marched in person and who marched in spirit, for allowing us to join you. We truly love you, and that love drives our fierce legal advocacy – every case we file, every policy or regulation we advocate for or against. We speak truth to power because of you.


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