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Hundreds gather for third annual Women’s March in Downtown El Paso

The third annual Women’s March took place at San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso, Saturday Jan. 19. The event held close to 600 people and featured music, poetry, speeches and demands of the El Paso citizens to the federal government.

“The theme this year for the National (march) is ‘Women’s Wave.’ It’s talking about how there’s been a huge women’s wave in politics as far as how many women have gotten elected, and there’s been a lot of firsts,” said Raneem Karboji, current UTEP nursing student and senator for SGA, who has been part of the march’s organizing committee for two years.

Karboji was also one of the speakers for the march. She spoke of empowerment for women, Muslims and about how she experienced life in El Paso as a Muslim Latina.

“So the main thing here is to keep people engaged and still interested in voting-especially women- and encouraging women to run for public office to bridge the gender gap,” Karboji said.

Another participant in this event was Shaka Toki local musician Angélica Tinajero, who had the opportunity to perform some of her pieces at the march.

“One of them is called ‘Amor, Amor, Amor,’ and it’s about getting everybody to feel that love and that unity,” Tinajero said. “The second song, was actually requested by the march organizers, is called ‘Chicanita.’ And that one I wrote for all the women in El Paso who illuminate this city with their love and their nurturing and their life-giving.”

As a female musician, Tinajero said the march empowers change because it helps to inspire other women in the community to learn from each other.

“Hearing some of the women speak today inspired me to say, ‘Hey, you know what? You know, even though as a female musician, I come into a lot of issues with my male musician partners, co-workers’ So this inspires me to just keep pushing it,” Tinajero said.

Another speaker at the march was Veronica Escobar, congressional representative for Texas’ 16th district. In her speech, she spoke against the current government shutdown and how she is willing to make the people’s voice heard in congress and how she is willing to be held accountable by the people.

“The march is near and dear to my heart. I participated in every single one since their inception,” Escobar said. “I think it’s very important, more than ever, for women to be in the leadership table and for women to be making demands like they made today of their government and their leaders.

“We are living during a very precarious time when there is an erosion of voting rights, civil rights, abuses of immigrants and the most vulnerable, erosion in health care. So there’s a lot at stake for all of us, our children, our grandchildren. There’s no one better to be fighting for our important values that we share than women.”

In the crowd was former congressman Beto O’Rourke, who came with his wife and three children to support the cause. He noted that there is strong leadership in the youth and females of El Paso.

“(The march) shows them that it’s up to us, the things that matter most are, you know, within our power to decide. You see that in the power of people out here,” O’Rourke said.

The stronger themes presented at the march were ones of power for minorities, immigrants and for people to raise their voices in this democracy so that, eventually, the desired change will come.

“I think the Women’s March is important in  generating energy. And that energy, as I mentioned on the stage, has to be translated into action. And so, it means voting, it means canvassing, it means running for office,” said Escobar. “Because the March alone doesn’t change things, it’s building up the energy and momentum to creating long term change.”

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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Hundreds gather for third annual Women’s March in Downtown El Paso