By Yasmin Rubayo, Staff Writer –
The purpose of the Chattanooga Women’s Rally is to create a space for women and those who support them to come together to promote growth and equity.
While the rally has been in existence for three years, this year it attracted attention for being the most controversial.
Pastor Alaina Cobb of Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center and previously arrested organizer for Chattanooga Women’s Rally 2019 spoke on this.
“This was originally a march, but now these women have decided to change everything that it was founded on,” said Cobb.
Cobb protested the event this year with her own event, “Anywhere But The (Anti) Women’s Rally” on Facebook.
She posted in the comment section that anyone could participate in protesting the Chattanooga Women’s Rally if they intentionally do not go, whether or not they were in the area.
According to Cobb, no one involved in this year’s rally had been involved in the past years.
She has no relationship with the current organizers, but she understands that the rally was not like the march they had done for the past two years.
The day of the event, the cold and rainy weather seemed to keep attendees away.
Volunteers at the Southeastern Carpenters Association (SCA) were eager to talk about what they are doing for women’s equity.
SCA offers free training through their carpentry program and is proud to be an organization that closes the gender wage gap while putting no significance on color, gender, religion or background.
The group was happy for the few attendees who came by their tables, but they were still disappointed in how few women came to brave the elements.
The women spectators who attended stood around the stage and wandered among the booths, discovering what groups were there to support them.
Some were there to protest, holding signs saying “Jesus is a Liberal” and “Trump Hates Women”.
When Robin Smith took the stage to introduce Keynote Speaker Paula Casey, a group of protesters who had been mostly quiet raised their signs above the crowd and chanted “fake Women’s Rally” over her introduction.
Cobb shared their sentiment a few days earlier.
“Robin Smith is against women’s right to choose, she is against LGBTQ, she is against democrat’s rights,” said Cobb. “She has a terrible history of antisemitism.”
Among the audience stood Melony Collins, representing the Mayor’s Council for Women.
“There are needs in the Chattanooga community and The Mayor Council for Women is filling these needs,” said Collins.
The council holds monthly meetings for anyone who can bring their point of view surrounding physical health issues, women’s needs, community safety and more.
The group had a hand in shedding light on research such as postpartum depression and fatalities in childbirth, which greatly affect a wide number of women in the community.
The Mayor’s Council for Women is currently working to better sex education in schools as well.
Both Cobb and Collin want women to stay involved in local organizations, know what is going on in the local community and stand up for what you believe in, they said.