Proudly clad in red attire, dozens of participants were invited to observe 47 minutes of silence outside of the Dimond Library to represent the 47,000 people who die each year from unsafe abortions on Wednesday in honor of International Women’s Day.
This meeting was held to silently protest Donald Trump’s enforcement of the Mexico City Policy, which cuts funding for women’s health and reproductive clinics around the world. The event was hosted by the #Fight4Her campaign, and was co-sponsored by Amnesty International and WildActs, UNH’s social justice theatre troupe. The #Fight4her campaign wants to replace the legislation, known as the global gag rule, with the health, empowerment and reproductive rights (HER) act, which they are working with Senator Jeanne Shaheen to enforce.
“It is a day to honor folks in our lives who inspire us…who lead the way in our fights for justice. It’s also a day…to acknowledge the threats that exist to reproductive justice for people across the gender spectrum and around the world…” #Fight4Her’s New Hampshire field organizer Woody Little said.
President of Amnesty International at UNH, Jasmina Cesko, believed it important for the organization to support the cause because, “Amnesty believes in human rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”
After speakers kicked off the event, participants chose a comfortable place to sit in silence for the coming 47 minutes. Some held signs inscribed with phrases like “Stop the Global Gag Rule,” “Support the HER Act” and “Safe Reproductive Health Care for ALL.” Some even brought their pets to the demonstration. Campaign volunteers shared stories from those who have been directly affected by the global gag rule.
Sophomore neuroscience major Mackenzie Evans wanted to get involved the moment she heard about the campaign so that she could make a difference.
“I have goals to go on to medical school, so working in the healthcare field and as a female myself, women’s rights and access to health care, especially reproductive rights, is so important,” Evans said. After Little leaves UNH in five weeks to continue his work with #Fight4Her in other locations, Evans aspires to live up to his leadership role.
“Even when we do repeal the global gag act, the fight’s not going to be over,” Evans said. “We’re still going to continue fighting for women’s rights.”
After 47 minutes of silence, demonstrators gathered to share examples of leaders who inspired their fights for justice: figures like civil rights activist Ella Baker and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg were mentioned, as well as personal role models, such as mothers and grandmothers.
Nearly 650 petitions were collected at UNH through #Fight4Her so far, and were delivered to Senator Shaheen’s office in Dover following the event. Additionally, the silent demonstration was filmed by members of WildActs, who are working to produce and distribute a video to build more momentum for the #Fight4Her campaign.
“We can really use our bodies, and our voices and our silence, as tools and theatrical acts to move towards justice in this world,” Little said.