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Column: Orange County women are no longer sitting on the sidelines

Monica Brasov-Curca is the founder and director of Activate Labs, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes aspiring leaders to create communities that stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable.

She isn’t one to sit on the sidelines.

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On Jan. 19, she joined nearly 15,000 women at the Orange County Women’s March in Santa Ana — with a beat in her step and a young daughter in hand — because she wanted to be on the front lines: leading by example, walking with refugees and speaking loudly for dignity and justice for all.

I’ve been participating in the Orange County Women’s March since 2017. There’s something empowering, dignifying and enriching about walking side by side with others for the same cause, no matter your story or journey.

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Every year has brought out mothers, daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters from all walks of life. There were hundreds of men too. Men who cared, men who believe women, men who stand by women and men making a new commitment toward gender and racial equality.

Columnist Mona Shadia at the 2019 Orange County Women's March in downtown Santa Ana on Jan. 19. It was her third year participating in the march.
Columnist Mona Shadia at the 2019 Orange County Women's March in downtown Santa Ana on Jan. 19. It was her third year participating in the march. (Photo by Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

This year’s march seemed to be the smallest in size; for comparison, 2018 drew an estimated 25,000 marchers. There are several factors that led to that, part of which could be due to some controversy tied to the original organizers of the national Women’s March and allegations of antisemitism.

The Orange County Women’s March, though, is independent and does not share leadership with Women’s March Inc.

My friend Rashad Al-Dabbagh, founder and executive director of the Arab American Civic Council, reflected on the controversy as we marched.

For Al-Dabbagh, the Women's March is an opportunity to put aside our differences and march in unity for equal rights.

“As the Trump administration continues to target our communities, we continue to resist his attempts to undermine women of color, immigrant women, refugee women, undocumented women and all vulnerable communities,” he said. “Because of our collective activism over the past two years, today Congress better reflects our communities and our needs. Now is the time to hold those we elected accountable, and now is the time to make our nation a more perfect union.”

This is also why Brasov-Curca marched and volunteered this year. It wasn’t just for her and her daughter.

Brasov-Curca went for “immigrants that want freedom, for black lives that matter, for LGBTQ friends who want to be safe, free and visible, for Palestinians that need freedom, for all women that for too long have been abused and silenced, for all who labor to be paid a fair and equitable wage.

“I am here for the artists, the prophets, the poets, the lonely. I am here to honor the people of the land. To remember and honor our sacred past and welcome the beautiful future.”

Mona Shadia is an Egyptian American writer who lives in Orange County. Follow her on Twitter at @MonaShadia.

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