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Utah FRSO hosts International Women's Day panel

Emphasis on importance of organization and the working class
By Ian De Oliveira |
March 8, 2016
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Salt Lake City, UT - Over 40 people packed a coffee shop in SLC on March 5 to listen to a panel of community leaders talk about the past and present struggles of women and the history of International Women's Day. The event was organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).

International Women’s Day had its origins in the women’s labor struggles of the early 1900s, so it was natural that part of the panel discussion would focus on the issues working-class women face and the great victories they have made.

Gabriella Killpack, a member of Teamster Local 222, talked about the lives of great leaders and organizers such as Lucy Parsons, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Mother Jones. Killpack states, “Unions provide an avenue of work that is unique in its ability to directly improve the quality of life for women and all working people, in a way which is unattainable through the liberal individualistic approach.”

The panel covered a wide range of issues, from the struggles of the Palestinian leader Rasmea Odeh to a more personal testimony of a woman's role in the student movements. The theme of the night was the importance of organization and working class solidarity in advancing women’s struggles.

Two of the panelists, Danielle Warnick of Socialist Alternative and Theresa Nielson of Students for a Democratic Society, touched on their pasts and process of radicalization. Nielson stated, “I don’t think women's liberation will be achievable outside of the greater struggle against capitalism and white supremacy.”

Alyssa Ferris, of the Utah Anti War Committee (UWAC) spoke on the struggle to get justice for Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, specifically Odeh’s persecution and torture by Israel and the U.S. Ferrris recounted the local and national actions the UAWC has taken part in to show solidarity with Odeh, putting an international spotlight on her case, and showcasing the importance of having organizations behind you when targeted by political repression.

“Rasmea was targeted for the work she was doing. If they came after her, they can come after us all,” said Ferris.