Friday, September 22 , 2017, 11:25 am | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 

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Crowds Gather for International Women’s Day Celebrations in Santa Barbara County

Participants showed their support for women’s rights and empowerment at events in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria

More than 250 community members gathered on the grass in De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara on Wednesday to mark International Women’s Day. Click to view larger
More than 250 community members gathered on the grass in De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara on Wednesday to mark International Women’s Day. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

People worldwide and in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday showed their unity for women’s rights and empowerment by participating in events highlighting International Women’s Day.

More than 250 community members gathered on the grass at De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara — women, men and children — and wore red outfits in solidarity with women on International Women's Day, which commemorates the movement for women's rights and has been observed since the early 1900s. 

Event organizers asked people to participate in the “Day Without a Woman” strikes by not engaging in paid and unpaid work and avoiding spending money with the exception for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses, according to the event Facebook page.

Demonstrators participated in a moment of silence in solidarity with women across the world.

“A lot of women can’t be here — we are fortunate that we can and taking time to reflect,” said Women's March Santa Barbara co-organizer Shannon Krahn. “We are also reflecting on our ancestors that inspire us not to be silenced but to speak the truth. This fight is hard, long, exhausting and stressful.”

Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, mentioned the attacks on women's reproductive freedom.

"Health care is a human right,” Tosh said. “Now, more than ever, our rights are under attack.”

The crowd cheered and clapped after Tosh’s statement.

The Rev. Julia Hamilton of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara encouraged attendees “to love each other into a more powerful future together,” and urged equality.

Catherine Swysen, president of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, said it’s critical to elect “feminist candidates” in city, county, state and federal offices.

“Global change starts at the local level,” Swysen said. “It is going to be more important than ever to be bold and to commit to social action to protect and uphold women’s rights and our feminist values of equality, inclusiveness and respect.”

Joan Hartmann, Third District supervisor for Santa Barbara County, was among the public officials who participated in Wednesday’s International Women’s Day commemoration in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Joan Hartmann, Third District supervisor for Santa Barbara County, was among the public officials who participated in Wednesday’s International Women’s Day commemoration in Santa Barbara. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Swysen noted that the International Women's Day 2017 campaign theme is "Be Bold For Change."

Elected officials and community member also took to the podium to speak about the importance of women in society and jobs.

Goleta Union School District board member Susan Epstein, Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo and Councilman Jason Dominguez, as well as business manager for Southern California District Council of Laborers Local 220 Hertz Ramirez addressed the crowd.

“Lets get women into different types of jobs so they can empower themselves, be self-employed and take care of their families,” Murillo said. 

Representatives from the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center Center and the Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County were also present.

The rally closed with the crowd singing a song in unison with musicians Cate Claydon and Susan Marie Reeves. 

In Santa Maria, people celebrated the 6th annual International Women’s Day event at Allan Hancock College.

The program included guest speakers and featured singer and songwriter Joelyn Lutz.

Carrie Asuncion, the chief possibility officer with Keys to Empowerment, shared tips to guide women entrepreneurs.

Marlene Clanton, a facilitator for the Alternative to Violence Project, also noted how to get involved with the all-volunteer program dedicated to reducing violence in the streets, schools, homes and society.

To commemorate Women’s History Month, each California Assembly member across the 80 districts has selected an individual to celebrate their contributions and accomplishments.

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, an active Ojai resident and the tribal leader of the Barbareño-Ventureño Band of Mission Indians, was selected as the 37th Assembly District’s 2017 Woman of the Year.

Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) recognized Tumamait-Stenslie.

Jesely Alvarez — the Mary Buren Elementary School principal in Guadalupe — was honored this week after being chosen by 35th District Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) for her career in public school management and teaching

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) will honor four women selected for their contributions to their communities from Santa Barbara County as the 19th Senate District’s 2017 Women of the Year on March 10. 

Jackson will acknowledge long-time peace and social justice activist Sharon Hoshida, who has spent her career to empowering students to become the next generation of activists fighting for gender, racial and socio-economic justice.

Activist, philanthropist and civic leader Nancy Johnson will be recognized for her community advocacy and volunteer service to multiple organizations.

Murillo is the first Latina ever elected to the Santa Barbara City Council, the founder of a forum addressing gang prevention and sponsored a self-defense class for high school girls. She is also serving her second term on the City Council representing district three.

Managing partner for Acme Hospitality Sherry Villanueva, who has been the driving force behind the revitalization of the FunkZone in Santa Barbara.

Kim Evans, Alicia Flores, Cynthia Herrera and Suz Montgomery from Ventura County will be honored on March 23.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

More than 250 community members gathered on the grass in De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara on Wednesday to mark International Women’s Day. Click to view larger
More than 250 community members gathered on the grass in De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara on Wednesday to mark International Women’s Day. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
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