Co-founder Emiliana Guereca says Saturday’s event is about flexing voter muscle in 2020
By Joe Piasecki
The massive turnout for the inaugural Women’s March Los Angeles and sister marches around the world the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump was a unique moment in history — one that Women’s March L.A. co-founder Emiliana Guereca, a Westside events planner, does not expect to repeat.
As the national Women’s March suffocates under the weight of political infighting and dissonant messaging, Guereca hopes Saturday’s fourth annual Women’s March L.A. will energize participants around a more straightforward agenda of increasing the representation of women in local and national halls of power. While the march itself happens once a year, Women’s March L.A. is giving rise to a political action group that aims to exert its influence year-round.
The Argonaut: Is the centennial of national women’s suffrage relevant to this year’s march?
Emiliana Guereca: It’s incredible what we’ve done in 100 years, but it’s also sad what we have not been able to accomplish in 100 years. What comes to mind most is not ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment for women. We’re still not receiving equal pay. We’re still not being represented in all spheres. So 100 years from winning the vote, the next logical step is to play a larger role in the political realm. … Having more women in government will change a lot of the policies we’ve seen have failed us.
Why is marching the right thing to do at this moment?
The 2020 election. Women will be electing the next president of the United States. To mobilize voters, we will have to continue to speak out and be on the streets to make sure the candidates who are running for president have a clear agenda to advance and protect women’s rights. … What we achieved in the midterms was fantastic, but ultimately our goal is to get a female presidential candidate.
Do you mean for this election? That would narrow the field …
Amy Klobuchar, [Elizabeth] Warren — don’t forget Tulsi [Gabbard] is still out there … and Marianne Williamson. We’re narrowing, yes, but even a ticket with a male and a female candidate is, I think, progress.
Why the change in organizational structure?
We’re still part of a movement, but we’ve moved in the direction of being a foundation to make sure we have year-round programming and that we are supporting other activists throughout the year. We can’t do it just by marching; we have to continue to put in the work for larger-scale social change.
In 2019 we mobilized and registered students in college campuses throughout the United States. We are also registering and mobilizing voters in 2020. We were the organization that pushed to have the Dolores Huerta Square in the city of Los Angeles, because women aren’t well represented in that realm.
More than that, we’re working on solidifying a Women’s Building in Los Angeles — a feminist Mecca that used to exist in the 1970s but went away in the ’90s. And now we need to reclaim that space. … The digital space is great, but the physical space has more power. It’s also a very male-dominated space, the owning of property.
What about the infighting that has crippled the national march?
We have always been an independent organization. Women’s March Los Angeles is self-funded. We’ve rebranded because we did not have ownership of the Women’s March logo, and so we could set ourselves apart and continue the movement as an organization that stands for positive change. … On our end we’ve always been really clear that our focus and messaging is women’s rights.
Given where our politics are, is it realistic to call this a nonpartisan event?
Women’s rights are a nonpartisan issue. You either stand for women’s rights or you don’t. It’s a simple question: Do you believe women should be equal? All right, cool.
The theme of the march is #WomenRising. What are the best examples of women rising over the past year?
What we did in the midterms, and what youths are doing. Emma Gonzalez, Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — passing the torch to youth has been propelled by women.
What is your expectation for turnout this year?
Between our digital organization and volunteers who are emailing, we’re estimating about 100,000 to 150,000. We’re not trying to replicate the first year. We’re trying to continue the movement.
Has the level of outrage declined, or is it that people have simply acclimated to the current political landscape?
We’re funding candidates. We’re attending marches. We’re dealing with issues that are going on in our communities. We’re also dealing with a huge level of hate in this country right now. People get fatigued from all the negativity, and we hope this one day of uniting to move the women’s agenda forward into 2020 helps people remember we are still here, that there’s power in numbers, and we’re not going away.
The fourth annual Women’s March Los Angeles happens Saturday, Jan. 18, in Downtown Los Angeles, starting from Pershing Square at 10 a.m. and ending at L.A. City Hall at 2 p.m. Call (310) 200-0124 or visit womensmarchla.org.