Lisa Pedersen is the Founder of the Women’s Secular Group of Southern California and co-founder and former Vice President of Friends of Freethought. She is considered politically progressive and is dedicated to providing educational outreach on social issues, often partnering with other like-minded organizations. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a minor in Psychology. She will complete her Master of Science degree with a concentration in Organizational Leadership in the Spring of 2017. In her free time she hikes, travels, appreciates artwork (especially dadaism), and is an amateur photographer.

The most important element of the right to assembly is the freedom of expression. On Saturday, January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America (USA), more than 5 million people across the nation — including myself — peacefully participated in the Women’s March. The goal of the March was to send President Trump and his administration a message that women’s rights are human rights.

The marchers formed community alliances and protested because during Trump’s campaign, he made sexist remarks about women. For instance, he tweeted that Megyn Kelly from Fox News was a bimbo, and that women who got abortions should be punished. Additionally, according to writer Catherine Pearson from the Huffington Post, Trump went on record stating that Khizr Khan’s wife, Ghazala, didn’t speak (at the Democratic convention) because she “was not allowed to have anything to say.” Trump’s assumption in his remark was that all Muslim women are voiceless and subservient to their husbands. His response comments came after Khan, the father of a soldier who died in Iraq, spoke out against Trump at the convention. His comments were both ignorant and compassionless.

The Women’s March was the first step toward further unifying our communities while making our voices heard. I organized a humanist group of approximately 52 people to participate in the Women’s March in Santa Ana, California (49 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles), where an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people were reported to have participated.

I registered the group under the name of Humanists of the World because I felt it was important to work together in solidarity with our community, to represent men and women humanists from all over the world who were unable to attend, and to spread the word about humanism. During the March I was asked what a humanist is. My response was “Humanists love diversity, value critical thinking, and do good without God.” The reaction was always favorable.

The marchers displayed an array of different messages. Although some individuals had their own personal agenda, we all shared common ground. The overarching message was that we respect and stand united for one another. The courtesy which I saw among my humanist community members who participated in the Women’s March was inspiring. I look forward to continuing the momentum with them and with people around the world to advocate for equality in the name of humanism.

Now that we have sent President Trump and his administration the message that we stand united, it is up to us to continue to take peaceful action for women’s rights — not just here in the USA, but for women all across the globe. For us to be successful in our endeavors, we must first have compassion for ourselves, to ensure that our attitude does not change when others treat us with indifference. For once we have created a negative bias toward another, it will be difficult to resolve differences in a peaceful manner.

 Lisa Pedersen

Source used for quote.