22 January 2018
MELBOURE—One year ago, the day after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, record numbers of protesters hit the streets of every country around the globe to demand long-overdue fair and equal treatment of women in society. In Washington, D.C. alone, it was estimated that the 2017 Women’s March was the largest protest demonstration in recorded U.S. history. Since then, the movement has only grown in intensity and drive. Amplified by the voices of millions of women who have come out publicly, sharing their experiences and demanding action from a nation that finally started listening. Despite these calls for gender equality, the White House and Republican lawmakers have – shockingly – rejected the American people’s overwhelming call for pro-women and pro-equality reforms.
As a result, yesterday in the highly-visible downtown area of Melbourne, members of Democrats Abroad Australia-Victoria (DAA-Vic.) joined with other Melburnians, union members, environmentalists, and other women activists to reiterate the message that overseas Americans refuse to be silenced on issues affecting women.
With chants booming through streets, the scene from Alexandra Gardens to Flinders Street Station was an impressive one. Among the vocal demonstrators were some expatriate Americans clearly dissatisfied with arguably the most anti-women’s rights president and Congress of the modern era. Participants of the second Global Women’s March called for a halt in ongoing sexual harassment, the need to respect the lifestyle of those identifying as LGBT women, a review of policies seen as biased against women, and an encouraging message for increased female candidates to all elected office positions.
DAA-Vic. member Melissa Goffin was a lead organizer of the Melbourne event. Major news outlets such as The Age, SBS, and The Guardian all took notice of Goffin’s dedicated involvement. Goffin and other organizers received additional planning assistance coming from fellow DAA-Vic. members Anne Webb and Brigette Relyea.
Recent online trends such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to make waves on social media, in reference to the number of women who have had to endure unsolicited sexual advances, sexual harassment, and even rape at the hands of people who, in most cases, faced little or no punitive repercussions in response to their criminal behavior. “It’s a shame that in the twenty-first century we still have to fight for the respect and equality deserved between men and women. And sadly, not enough is being done to prevent or prosecute sexual assaults. Until these injustices are corrected, Democrats will continue to stay vocal in demanding reform from U.S. lawmakers,” stated Marybeth Yarosh, an active member of the DAA-Vic. chapter. Goffin added, “It’s a new era of feminism.”
Reports of the 2018 Women’s March in Melbourne range from 500 to 1,000, although these numbers are disputed by those who were in attendance. They argue the number was likely closer to 2,000 participants.
As 2018 is an election year in the United States, all DAA-Vic. members are reminded to immediately request ballots for all 2018 elections in which you are eligible to vote. Chair Lopez also announced that the next meeting of the Victoria Chapter will be announced within days after confirmation of venue location, date, and time. Items expected to be discussed include details on the chapter’s upcoming efforts for getting out the vote, or GOTV, in addition to notifying members of recent DA leadership changes.
Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.