(Martha Kakooza, Maider De Emilio and Graziele Grilo share their stories at the protest they organized in Freedom Square. (Photo by: Leah Volpe/TU Student)
Around 50 Towson University students and faculty gathered in Freedom Square Wednesday on International Women’s Day in an effort to begin a campus wide discussion and bring awareness to women’s rights.
The majority of the women participating in the protest wore red to show their support of the international holiday.
The event was organized by Graziele Grilo, Maider De Emilio and Martha Kakooza, who are all graduate students majoring in Women and Gender Studies. The three women wanted to highlight the issues that women face globally.
“Not only to be willing to talk, but be able to listen too,” said Graziele Grilo. “Because I think a big problem is people don’t want to listen to different opinions or engage in conversation that takes us out of our comfort zone and I think we have to leave our comfort zones in order to achieve something.”
The purpose of the protest was to start a campus-wide discussion and spread awareness about women’s rights and injustices.
“Knowing the things I have being from a different race, class, and position and not ignoring them is something important of today,” said Kakooza. “Acknowledging every day the areas in which we are not privileged.”
All three of the women are international students and aimed to bring their unique perspective to the discussion and the different struggles they face at Towson. They wanted to utilize their right of freedom of speech they have in the U.S. to help women who do not have that right in their country.
“We acknowledge that we have a privilege to be able to strike, not every women is able to do that,” Emilio said.
Kakooza shared insight to the celebration of International Women’s day in her home country of Uganda.
“I’m from Uganda and today is a public holiday so no one goes to work, everyone stays home and cooks good food and spends time together,” Kakooza said.
Students were able to share their feelings about women’s issues and what they see and experience at Towson University through an open discussion by passing around a microphone.
“We wanted to have a conversation and be much more personal. When people get to know you, they can relate it more,” said Grilo.
Students and faculty from all majors and departments contributed to the discussion and many others walking by Freedom Square stopped to join the conversation.
One student, Brendal Mitchell, studying sociology and criminal justice, joined the protest because of her interest in women studies.
“This is Women’s International Day, it is not just about the U.S. and our problems and what we’re protesting for,” Mitchell said. “But it’s about other women in other countries who don’t have the privilege like we do to come here today to discuss these issues openly and freely.”
The organization of the protest was achieved just days before March 8.
Grilo, Emilio and Kakooza were unaware of obtaining a legal permit before the protest occurred. They quickly spread the word through a mass email by the Women and Gender studies department and the use of social media.