Nassau County residents coalesced along Old Country Road in Carle Place in honor of International Women’s Day, known this year as A Day Without Women, on March 8.
Joy Hutchins, 38, of Merrick, who joined the South Shore Women’s Caucus recently, said she had no previous experience in politics. Her disagreements with President Donald Trump’s administration and her feelings about the current political climate motivated her to attend her first meeting. “I wanted to learn how to take action,” she said. “I never thought in my life I would have to do that.”
Hutchins has a son and two daughters. She said she wanted to make sure her daughters maintain the right to “make decisions about their bodies,” and hoped her son would have male role models who instill this ideal in him.
For last Wednesday’s nationwide demonstration, aimed at continuing the political resistance that was showcased at women’s marches in January, women took a day off from work and dressed in red to symbolize their impact on the economy. Local activists and political leaders marched to Nassau County Democratic Headquarters for a luncheon and a forum hosted by the Women’s Caucus. The main goal was to inspire women to take part in their communities and local governments.
Claudia Borecky, president of the Bellmore-Merrick Democratic Club, formed the South Shore Women’s Caucus after attending the Women’s March on Washington with members of her community. In a letter addressing the participants, she wrote that joining the march had instilled in her a passion to promote political change at a local level. “On that bus and in that march,” she wrote, “we truly became sisters without saying a word.”
Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran supported Borecky’s initiative and shared her own story with the crowd. Once a journalist with no intentions of getting involved in politics, the Baldwin native ran for school board because she wanted to be involved in making decisions about her children’s education. Eventually, her experience inspired her to run for office.
“[Women are] clearly not being represented in the local government,” Curran told the Herald. (The Nassau County Legislature is 58 percent male and 42 percent female.) She said that representation starts at the grass roots, with women showing up at rallies, donating to the organizations they support, volunteering for those organizations and, ultimately, “getting involved at a level where you can really make a difference.”
Amid the sea of red at the demonstration, Nancy Dwyer, 82, of Valley Stream, banged a handheld drum adorned with dates written in magic marker. Each date denoted a rally or protest that she attended, starting with her first demonstration in 1999, for employees of a local business who felt they were being cheated out of fair salaries, she recalled.
Dwyer bought the drum two weeks before the demonstration. She banged it and chanted with residents who demanded fair wages for the employees. The next day, their demands were met.
“I really sense a stirring among the people here,” Dwyer said of the community. She added that her devotion to the ongoing women’s rights protests is in keeping with her strong Catholic faith, and that she hoped that A Day Without Women would show President Trump and his administration that people are frustrated by their actions — specifically the president’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“What we’re really doing [today] is promoting love over hate,” she said. “That’s what it means to be a good Catholic.”
At the forum, Lauren Corcoran-Doolin, the Town of Hempstead’s Democratic leader, offered a crash course on the modern political landscape that she called Politics 101. She explored the various ways in which women can get involved in government, by running for legislative or executive positions and joining organizations like the South Shore Women’s Caucus. “The first step in taking back our country in 2018,” she said, “is taking back county and town in 2017.”