MUNICH — (MunichNOW News) — The 2018 Munch “Women’s March to the Polls” got underway shortly after 2 PM as marchers gathered from around the city at the Siegestor, one of the gates marking the outline of the old city.
March organizer, Munich Democrats Abroad stalwart Janet-Day Strehlow, gave a rousing welcome speech, and was followed by Jane Scheiring, Chair of American Association of University and Professional Women, with an inspiring talk on women’s rights in 2018.
Linda Jo Rizzo, the American singer based in Munich, got everyone moving and singing along with upbeat renditions of “I Will Survive” and several others. With that, the 2018 march was on its way down Leopoldstraße toward Odeonsplatz.
As Janet and others kept the marchers shouting and chanting with any number of political phrases and slogans, the 300 plus strong group began to fill Odeonsplatz along with the usual Saturday crowd of locals and tourists.
It is always worth remembering that Odeonsplatz was the site of the infamous 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch, citing as the beginning of the National Socialist (Nazi) movement in Germany.
March leader Day-Strehlow gave short remarks on the #MeToo movement as the marchers gathered around her in the busy square. She asked for those that had experiences sexual harassment and unwanted advances to raise their hands – and more than half of the crowd did so! The co-founders of the Munich Feminist Project: Sophia Gonzalez and Em Filer also addressed the emotional crowd.
The march reassembled and moved around the looming Feldherrnhalle and onto Residenzstraße for the final march to Marienplatz and the rally in front of the famous Munich Rathaus. The busy main central square slowly accomodated the marchers as they wound their way around the obelisk with the golden statue of Mary atop it.
The tourists and mimes and jugglers moved aside and the loud and happy group formed a semi-circle around the leaders as Dennis O’Donohue from Democrats Abroad, ex-chapter chair of the DA Stuttgart chapter, spoke on the importance of voting and participation and Shari Temple spoke on behalf of the DA’s Global Women’s Caucus.
The 2018 March wound down with Kristy Koth, on guitar, leading the group in “This Land is Your Land”. With that, the marchers slowly dispersed, chatting with each other, and with onlookers curious about all the excitement.
Last January, over 4 million Americans — more than 1% of the population — joined a Women’s March in many cities across the country. Solidarity marches also took place world wide – from small Pacific islands to Berlin, London, Paris and 1,000+ in Munich. What started as a protest march blossomed into a renewed wave of activism and political participation.
There are as many as 7 million Americans living outside of the country
Throughout the march and afterwards, volunteers were on hand to help US citizens register to vote and request 2018 absentee ballots. This is an important step as US citizens must request a new absentee ballot each year they are abroad. More information can be found at: votefromabroad.org.