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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2017
Women's Rally to be Held in Annapolis
Supporters expect to gather to promote women's equality and pro-women legislation in Maryland, oppose attacks on women's rights.
[Annapolis, MD] — On Monday, February 20, 2017, various groups across Maryland will hold an evening rally at 7:00 p.m. at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis to support a statewide progressive agenda for women. Ten organizations and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office are co-sponsoring the event and will be joined with state legislators and advocates to speak on issues and legislative measures promoting healthy families, reproductive justice, and economic security, as well as those seeking to stop violence against women.
Rally sponsors include: NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, FreeState Justice, FORCE, Women's Law Center of Maryland, Maryland National Organization for Women (NOW), Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW), Baltimore City State's Attorney Office, and MomsRising.
Delegate Maricé Morales, one of the lead organizers of the event, will serve as MC of the rally. Describing the motivation for the rally, Morales stated. "In light of the major success of the National Women’s March movement this past January and as a response to the potential threat of federal anti-women legislation and policies, my office partnered with various pro-women organizations and legislators to host the Women’s Rally in Annapolis on February 20th. Together we will highlight major pro-women legislative initiatives this session and ensure that Maryland remains a pro-woman state.”
Representing NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Executive Director Diana Philip plans to share information with participants about measures to provide workplace accommodations and excused absences in high schools to support pregnant and parenting Marylanders, as well as increased access to birth control through pharmacies and emergency contraception on college campuses. She believes the rally is an important way to engage Marylanders. "This rally will help those who want to become more informed about ways to achieve reproductive justice through a range of bills such as earned sick and safe leave to increased access to child care subsidies,” stated Philip.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will speak about the need to reform criminal justice laws around sexual assault and domestic violence. She will be joined by survivor Shatia Lansdowne-Ware, who will share her personal story in support of reforms. "I am thrilled to join in the national women’s movement and stand in solidarity with our local champions for equality and inclusion!” stated Mosby. "Not only will our voices be lifted to protect the neglected rights of women, but we will protest violence against women through legislation such as HB 369 and SB 316, which would level the playing field for victims of sexual assault and discourage assailants from using consent and fabrication claims to hide the truth about rape and molestation,” she said.
Michelle Siri, Executive Director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, will also speak about the need for reform. "The Women’s Law Center of Maryland is proud to share the stage at the Women’s Rally in Annapolis with such amazing legislators and sister-organizations in furtherance of women’s economic security and reproductive autonomy. The groundswell of support that we have witnessed over the past few months reassures us that the future is indeed female. But no matter how much progress we make, it is all for nothing if our laws don’t protect and respect women’s needs for physical safety,” said Siri. "It is beyond the pale that Maryland law currently requires a woman to physically resist an attacker for an assault to be considered rape, or that our laws do little to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers. The Women’s Law Center continues to be a voice for survivors and is dedicated to seeing legislation passed that will address those issues and help create a society where women are safe to live their lives to the fullest.”
Also speaking will be Ruth Martin, Silver Spring resident and National Director for Workplace Justice Campaigns for MomsRising. She will speak in support of a range of health, education, and workplace legislation that affect women. "MomsRising members know that together, moms are a powerful, unstoppable force,” she said. "We also know that being a mom is now a greater predictor of wage and hiring discrimination than being a woman – and moms of color are harmed the most,” stated Martin. "That's why MomsRising members across Maryland are working together to pass the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, support accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding moms, ban school suspensions for our littlest learners, pass paid family and medical leave, and end discriminatory wage and hiring practices. When we close the wage gap for women and moms, we make our families and our state stronger.”
"The rallies and marches we've seen across the country and around the world have been the most overwhelming display of unity and solidarity we've seen in our lifetimes. The Women's Rally in Annapolis is no different,” said Karen Nelson, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland. "Tonight, people from all walks of life will come together to fight for a future where everyone can follow their dreams and live life on their own terms. We are stronger than the attempts to divide us,” said Nelson. "We won't stand idly by as politicians try to roll back our fundamental rights - and that includes fighting back to stop every attempt to defund Planned Parenthood health centers."
The media is invited to join scheduled speakers at 6:30 p.m. for pre-rally interviews at Lawyer’s Mall, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD.