A Florida state senator strode through UCF Wednesday alongside two dozen students in a march to commemorate the 95th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Chants of “What do feminists look like? This is what feminists look like,” and “Women united, we’ll never be defeated,” rang through the air as marchers, comprising members of the College Democrats at UCF and Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood, made a winding circuit from Millican Hall to the Student Union and back. At the vanguard walked Nikki Mariutto, president of the college democrats and one of the march’s primary organizers.
“This [march] signifies that 95 years ago women got the right to vote,” said Mariutto, a sophomore film studies major. “Today we’re here to celebrate and also fight for the progress that needs to be made [for women].”
Prior to the march, Sen. Geraldine Thompson spoke to the assembled students in front of Millican Hall, heralding both the triumphs and struggles women face in the U.S.
“We have to educate people that women are 51 percent of the population in the United States, and should be considered in terms of what our needs are and what our desires are. Other people should not dictate to us what we do with our bodies, who we love, and what we can do in terms of our occupations. There are still a lot of barriers in terms of glass ceilings for women in terms of occupations, and we’ve got to break down all of those glass ceilings,” Sen. Thompson said.
Anna Eskamani, the director of public policy and field operations for Planned Parenthood Southwest, said that public demonstrations like the march served to remind students about the power that their votes hold.
“As women, we’ve only been voting for 95 years; that is not a lot in the greater picture of this work. In this country, we have very low voter turnout, and I think it’s important to remember that the right to vote is critical to having our voices be heard. If we’re not voting, we’re giving away our power, and we need to be holding onto our power and building it,” Eskamani said.
Bernard Wilchusky is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.