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More than 100 Juneau women rallied Saturday for improvements to health care, education and other social services and began developing a political platform that will be submitted to the media and then to Alaska political leaders.
The Bush administration has cut funding to all domestic programs not mandated by law, including education, to pay for congressional tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Juneau activist and former state official Barbara Balkan during the Juneau Rally for Women's Issues. The rally was held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Juneau Travelodge.
Another women's meeting is planned for November, rally sponsors said.
Andrea Doll, rally co-organizer, said it was time for Juneau women to get organized. "Each one of you has a role to play," she told the crowd. Later, the women brainstormed about a platform and what issues they'd include on it. "The women were just amazing in terms of what they wanted to do," Doll said, later.
"Women generally sense that the world needs to have this kind of dialogue. We have a crisis situation and as women, we recognize it. Women are healers and that's what they do," Doll said after the rally.
Doll noted that women from all ethnic backgrounds and age groups spoke at the rally. "It was crossing lines of what would be a typical gathering. We had 15 young girls come from high school. We were getting three, possibly four generations of women," Doll said.
Two major themes of the rally were healing and empowerment. Keynote speaker Nicole Hallingstad, vice president and corporate secretary for SeaAlaska, said "I am my sister's keeper and my brother's keeper. That's what makes our country work."
She added, "It's in (women's) nature to rebuild when things are falling apart."
Five women gave testimonials about how they were able to change their own lives.
Carolyn Moody, a former military equal employment opportunity employee, spoke to the gathering about domestic and workplace abuse. "It weakens you, it weakens your goals, it takes away your self-esteem."
Moody told the women "change is a necessary process, but it is a painful process."
She said, "If I can do it, you can do it."