Women from across the state battled strong winds atop the steps of the State Capitol building as they marched to discuss a variety of women’s issues for International Women’s Day. 

Hundreds of women celebrated the day with walkouts, marches, speeches and other forms of civic activism around Madison. Elementary school students led the first march of the day inside the Capitol, dressed in pink and alternately chanting “kindness matters” and “girls, united, will never be defeated.”

Two larger marches started from Madison East High School and the University of Wisconsin’s Library Mall, and converged at the Capitol in the afternoon.

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Women called on others to celebrate the international holiday in tandem with the “A Day Without A Woman” strike.

The Women’s March website urged women and allies to make their impact on communities known by wearing red, taking the day off of work and either refraining from spending money or shopping exclusively at small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

“When millions of us stood together in January [during the Women’s March], we saw clearly that our army of love greatly outnumbers that of fear, greed and hatred,” according to the website.

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Speakers touched on a range of issues, including women of color, transgender rights, violence against women and the new administration’s stance on women’s rights.

A running theme throughout the speeches was a call for more community control, especially concerning the police.

Speakers Zon Muas, a child of Hmong refugees, and Jessica Williams called on white women to “show up” for women of color and transgender women. Muas said their goal was to speak on behalf of the minority women they serve.

“A lot of times, we’re left out of the broader mainstream movement,” Muas said. “It was very important that we really spoke about solidarity and unity and showing up, because a lot of time women’s issues are just thought of as reproductive, but it is so much more than that.”

Samantha Adams, a UW student and Campus Women’s Center outreach coordinator, said minorities — including transgender, native, Latina and Asian women — must be made visible in the struggle for women’s freedom.

Adams said people cannot count on the new administration to speak out against violence toward transgender women of color.

“As a black, biracial woman, I’m asking myself and asking all of you to ask yourselves, ‘How am I going to mobilize my activism further?’” Adams said. 

Dayna Long, an event organizer and International Socialist Organization member, said the turnout was “spectacular,” especially given the rough weather.

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Several hundred students walked out from La Follette High School and Madison East High School, Long said.

“We’re really excited to see that there’s an opportunity for women in the United States to stand in solidarity with women around the world,” Long said. “Right now, there’s a lot of chiding of mass demonstration as a powerful tool for making change, but I think it’s one of the most powerful tools we’ve got, especially once you start talking about women withholding their labor.”

Madison Police Department, which escorted protesters at the event, estimated the crowd peaked at approximately 700 people, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said.

DeSpain said officers had no issues and made no arrests, he thanked marchers and motorists for facilitating a peaceful event.