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International Women’s Day Celebrated In Albany

People in the Capital District participated in an international day of action for women with a lunchtime rally Wednesday in downtown Albany.

Carrying signs that read "Justice For Women," "Women Run The World" and "Save the ACA," demonstrators in Albany joined the worldwide cause aimed to telegraph recognition that women's underpaid and unwaged labor is the bedrock of a nation's wealth and the social wellbeing.

In Albany's Townsend Park, some women wore red, some took the day off from work...  Rally co-organizer Rosie Huttner says the brunt of society's ills fall on the shoulders of women.   "We'd like to see subsidized or free child care. We would like to see universal pre-K. We would like to see mandatory maternity and paternity leave. It's very important that men be able to take time off for children. That's a big part of the gender wage gap is that it's typically easier for women to get time off, and that takes them out of the work force and sets them behind in their careers. We'd also like to see FMLA strengthened, which is the Family Medical Leave Act here in New York state. We're also in support of the Raise The Age Act. Currently, New York state prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, which is just unacceptable. We can't just keep sending our children to jail."

The first National Women's Day was observed in the United States in 1909. According to the United Nations, the Socialist Party of America designated the day in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Rosie Huttner holds the bullhorn as Barbara Smith addresses the crowd gathered in Albany's Townsend Park for International Women's Day / "A Day Without A Woman."

Albany's Barbara Smith traces her activist roots back to the feminist movement of the 1970's.   "There is a lot of enthusiasm. People are very alert, now, because they see many of the rights that we thought has been addressed and were insured by our democracy are going out of the window. People are not pleased with that. "

Smith tells WAMC she has celebrated International Women’s Day before, but feels winds of change blowing in the 2017 air.  "There are people who are very, very upset. The attacks on reproductive freedom, reproductive rights, to control of our bodies, violence against women. We have a predator in chief. So a lot of people just don’t want to talk about it. And they are not going to take that, and they are not going to stand for that. That’s why we are out here today."

In the crowd:  first time activist Jo-Ellen Unger, who came down from Saratoga Springs.  "I never was a protestor before in my life, and I started two weeks ago because I am so disappointed with what is happening in our country today.  I am upset that our rights are started to be taken away. That they are messing with our health rights, our reproductive rights. And there are just so many different things, like the environment. I mean, anyone that says there is no global warming needs to have their head examined because it's fairly clear that there's a problem."

The combined observance of International Women's Day and "A Day Without A Woman" saw women in more than 50 countries go on strike for labor rights, reproductive and environmental justice and an end to gender violence, racism, and xenophobia.

  • WAMC News Intern Nicholas Tantillo contributed to this report.
Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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