Mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons, brothers and more came out to make a stand for women’s rights on Saturday at the Fanohge Famalao’an March. The trek path lead from the Paseo De Susana, Hagåtña, to the Women of the Islands statue at Alupang in Tamuning.
Speakers discussed the issues of climate change, gender equality, reproductive rights, domestic violence and sexual assault and cited solidarity and collective unity as the only way to solve the problems.
The local march was a sister event to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18. They had the shared goal of protecting and uplifting victims of sexual violence. The local event also supported a donation drive for VARO, Victim Advocates Reaching Out, to provide needed supplies for women in crisis.
Two youth speakers, Turang Gillham, 13, and Isella Benitez, 14, had an opportunity to speak to the group of more than 100 people at the march about addressing climate change and violence.
“In 40 years, I would like the Earth to be a cleaner, healthier place. I want the world to be a safe place for women, children, men, and animals," Benitez said. "I want to see more people rising up to speak about issues and having people in power who are devoted to making a difference in helping Mother Nature. There’s nothing as remarkable as the world we live in, so let’s protect her.”
Gillham noted the vulnerability of certain areas, such as islands, to climate change.
“I’m hoping that in 40 years we will live as our ancestors lived with clean air, a clean ocean, and in harmony with all the other living things on our planet." Gillham said.
CHamoru activist Moneka De Oro, who was one of the organizers of the Fanohge Famalao’an March, said her favorite thing about the march was “showing the diversity of people, of age groups."
"There’s young, little children and babies here, all the way to our elders and manåmko'. There’s also women representing all the islands of Micronesia and other parts of the world. This sense of unity and diversity to uplift women’s rights and violence against Mother Earth is such a beautiful thing,” De Oro stated.
She believes the march is important to the community because it “marks the very first march that’s happening globally.
"We’re setting the tone for a day of action around the world for women to come together, to bring up issues that are affecting them, to be a source of strength for communities,” she stated.
Another topic tackled by the Women’s March and De Oro is climate change.
The march, she said, is a call for attention to this planet, which "is the only home we have and it’s really up to the women to come together to save her.”