Unidad Latina en Acción organizes local events for International Women’s Day
ULA holds events across New Haven, including on Yale’s campus, in support of individual women in the community, as well as the rights of women worldwide.
Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer
Throughout the day on Tuesday, International Women’s day, Unidad Latina en Acción, or ULA, organized three community events across New Haven that included speeches, personal testimonies, chanting, music, food and marching. All three events celebrated women and called for gender equality.
The events held at the New Haven County Courthouse, Yale Women’s Table and 14 Mechanic St. allowed community members to speak out in support of women, with an emphasis on the stories of several individuals in the ULA community. Speakers shared personal stories of discrimination, spoke in favor of the rights of women laborers,y painted signs for a march, drew chalk drawings and spent time together to celebrate the women in their communities and beyond. While the focus of the day was on women, discussion was also devoted to issues of immigration, wage theft, the discrimination of people of color and social justice throughout the community.
“I think a lot of white women resonate with being oppressed and recognizing their oppression,” Lupita Galvan Tinoco SPH ’23, who attended the day’s events, told the News. “I think that’s a gateway to introducing them to the fact that a lot of people are oppressed and until all of us are liberated, none of us are liberated. I think using this as a window to introduce people to other oppressions like that of LGBTQ people, people of color and people with disabilities will help us get closer to recognizing this is all of our problem and we can all contribute to the solution.”
The first event of the day was held in front of the New Haven County Courthouse at 9 a.m., where the group stood in solidarity with one of their members, Bella Vásquez, whose husband had a court appointment in response to accusations of abuse made by Vásquez. According to Vásquez, the court was planning on dismissing the case until the prosecutors spoke with people at the event. Afterward, the prosecutor shared that the court wanted to hear testimony from the victim, which previously had not been planned. Vásquez was also present at the last event of the day to give thanks to all of those who supported her, and gave a teary-eyed speech on the importance of community. She encouraged all women struggling with abuse, currently or in the past, to seek help from their community and from groups like ULA.
The next event, held at 11:30 a.m. at the Women’s Table in front of Sterling Memorial Library, featured more calls for equality, stories, chalk drawings, posters and chanting. One man shared his story of abuse in the military from when he presented as a cisgender woman. One woman, Claudia Valeggia, spoke about the importance of including Indigenous women in the fight for equality and highlighted the necessity of speaking out for those without a voice. Another woman, Rosalba Montoya, shared the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, a story that epitomizes the struggles that women, especially immigrant working women, still face today, she said.
Apart from the symbolism of the Women’s Table, ULA chose to have this event on Yale’s campus in the hope it would bring forth the changes they want to see in relations to Yale. Speakers brought attention to supposedly unfulfilled claims by the University to hire a thousand more New Haven residents, the struggles of many immigrants that work for the University, as well as the difficulties presented to New Haven residents every time Yale expands its campus. Throughout the event, chants such as “You are not alone!” broke out, and the passion caused several students passing by to stop and listen. All speeches were delivered in both Spanish and English, something ULA always views as an important way to engage as many people as possible. The universal importance of women’s rights was often in the forefront of discussions at this event.
“We all come from a woman, and we need women to live,” ULA member Nayeli García said, as translated from Spanish by the News. “But we are treated poorly for the simple reason of being a woman. It makes me happy that we are fighting because sometimes I feel impotent, because we do not have what we deserve. I hope this keeps growing and it is not just one day when we are fighting for women.”
The final event of the day was held at 14 Mechanic St. at 5:30 p.m., a location that features a small park and is located across the street from Mezcal, a Mexican restaurant. The location was chosen for two reasons, the first being that the owner of the restaurant has been accused of sexual assault by a member of the community.
Secondly, ULA members and other attendees of the event claimed the small park, renaming it Women’s Park. The site now features a sign above a traffic light with the name, which ULA hopes will lead to others recognizing the park by its new name. Many of the over 40 participants painted signs, hung up posters and passed along information about the event and ULA to people passing by. After some speeches and even more personal testimonies, participants marched around the park several times and passed in front of the restaurant, repeating many of the chants heard before, and also chanting “If you touch one of us, we will all respond.” After the march, there was live music and food available for all participants.
Another Yale student, Jordyn Burton SPH ’23 explained why she chose to spend International Women’s Day at these events, and encouraged others to participate in communities outside of Yale.
“We understand that it is important to understand what is going on in the community,” Burton said. “We recognize that the only way to know what they are going through is by being with them and interacting with them.”
ULA meets virtually on Zoom every Monday at 7 p.m.