A Week for Women

The State Capitol has been quite the site of action lately with the teacher protests, the festivals, and the upcoming birthday celebrations, and the next several days boast no exception. Starting tomorrow, different types of events, namely rallies on the war against domestic violence and sexual assault, will kick off at the Capitol, and with everything that is going on, it truly is a week for women here in the Red Stick.

Thursday: Fight back against domestic violence
To begin, the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence – along with its sister coalition, the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault – will be hosting its first annual Day at the Capitol tomorrow, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Memorial Hall, located in the State Capitol building.

Advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol to raise awareness of the issues of violence that exist in Louisiana. Lisa Lovello, communications coordinator for the Coalition, notes that this year “is also a celebration of the coalitions’ 30th anniversaries, as both were founded in 1982. We are celebrating milestones in the 30 years we’ve been working in the anti-violence movement in Louisiana.”

To get an idea of their scope of influence, let me throw some numbers at you: In 2011, LaFASA’s programs served over 13,000 clients and LCADV’s programs served over 17,000 clients. There are, however, many unmet needs for services due to issues like lack of funding, under-staffing, and other barriers that non-profits face. Domestic violence is a growing concern, so if you or someone you know have been a victim, get down to the Capitol tomorrow to show your support and help to stop the violence.

For more information on the Coalition or this event, visit www.LCADV.org.

Saturday: Unite against the war on women
Launched this past February, Unite Women inundated Facebook with a call to march and rally on April 28 in every state. Their mission: to say that enough is enough when it comes to the legislative attacks on women and women’s rights across the nation. The organization has four basic goals of action: 1) to inform about issues from life experiences as women, 2) to advance women’s roles in politics and policy-making so that women’s concerns are addressed by women, 3) to increase participation of women in the political and legislative processes by using their voices to inform and advocate for women’s rights and by employing tactics and tools like Get Out The Vote, and 4) to nurture intergenerational networks of women so they can recognize and respond to the range of issues women experience across their life span, as well as to fulfill their full potential as women and as human beings in this society (courtesy of Ashley Baggett, Louisiana state leader).

The Louisiana rally will feature speakers on various women’s issues, music, informational tables, and the Clothesline Project (a project that allows survivors of gender-based violence to decorate a t-shirt that expresses their emotions and brings awareness to the prevalence of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other forms of gender-based violence). This event will also provide the opportunity for individuals to have their voices heard.

Individuals and groups at LSU are supporting Unite Women and its goals as well. A few organizations, such as Feminists in Action (FIA), Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), and the Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Student Organization (WGSGO), are endorsing the movement. They have mobilized their members to take part in the rally, spread the news about Unite Women, make signs, and volunteer for a variety of tasks at the rally. Unite Women strongly supports diversity and welcomes men and women of all ages, without discrimination.

If you are interested being a part of this movement, please visit www.UniteWomen.org or the Louisiana Chapter’s Facebook group at www.Facebook.com/groups/CAJUNWOW/ and contact State Leader Ashley Baggett. Volunteers can give as little or as much time as they would like.

Sunday: Man enough to walk in heels
Ever heard the old saying, “You don’t know what someone has been through until you’ve walked a mile in [his/her] shoes?” Well, one group is taking that adage literally, as on Sunday, April 29 community men will know what it’s like to walk at least a mile in a woman’s shoes…a woman’s pair of high-heeled shoes.

The Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center (STAR) is hosting their second annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” march at the North Boulevard Town Square in downtown Baton Rouge from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is intended to bring awareness to the prevalence of sexual violence in our community. Their goal is to raise $25,000 by having community members sign up to take the Walk a Mile Challenge and get their loved ones to sponsor them with donations to STAR. Registration is free but all participants are encouraged to seek sponsors for STAR donations. For more information about this organization or event, visit www.BRStar.org.

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