Update: Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.
The Pittsburgh sister march’s permit has been approved, according to a spokesperson for the mayor. The march will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., per an organizer, and will start at the City-County Building.
The Women’s March on Washington began as a Facebook event created by a retiree in Hawaii in response to the election of Donald Trump and grew into something much bigger after it was featured on the pro-Clinton group Pantsuit Nation.
That’s where Anna Marie Petrarca Gire learned about it.
Gire’s daughter is one of thousands of people who plan to attend the D.C. rally on the day after Trump’s inauguration. Gire, of Brookline, can’t make it to Washington, so she and a friend discussed doing something here in Pittsburgh. When the idea for a march came up, she “went with it that day,” and, like the national event, it has since “snowballed and taken [on] a life of its own,” Gire said.
“The idea of the march is that ‘Human rights are women’s right, and women’s rights are human rights,’ ” said Gire, evoking Clinton. “We would like anybody to show up.”
The tentative plan for Pittsburgh is this: On the morning of Jan. 21, marchers will gather at the City-County Building on Grant Street. Attendees will then march to Market Square, where there will be speakers (whose names have yet to be announced). At 1 p.m. — in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, which is happening the same day — there will be a moment of silence.
Gire said organizers have applied to the city for a permit and should hear back this week, at which point the tentative plan will become final. (A spokesperson for Mayor Bill Peduto confirmed the details of the permit application.)
The Pittsburgh march’s organizing committee is scheduled to meet for the second time Tuesday and is in the process of reaching out to groups across the city — focused on women, people of color, the LGBTQ community — to ensure the march is inclusive.
More than 800 people have said on Facebook they will attend, while about as many have RSVP’d through the Action Network. The Pittsburgh Sister March is one of at least five planned in Pennsylvania, including one scheduled in Philadelphia.
Gire was “shocked” that Trump was elected.
“I was really angry that somebody like that would be leading this country,” she said — a man who has “blatantly attacked” a journalist with a disability, women, people of color, “everybody.”
“Not stunned enough, though,” she added, “not to take some action.”
Gire was a business owner in Pittsburgh before she moved to Illinois in the 1980s and became a court advocate for a sexual assault center. She found herself becoming irritated with how women were covered by the press. That included Hillary Clinton, whose laugh was described as cackling, Gire recalled.
Before moving back to Pittsburgh in 2003, Gire started Women’s Independent Press, a newspaper distributed in this city, as well as in Champaign/Urbana. The print paper no longer exists, but today the press annually releases the Women’s Yellow Pages, a directory of businesses primarily owned by women, and holds an awards ceremony called the Authors’ Zone.
Now, Gire and a “really great” group of other women — some of whom she only met on Saturday — are organizing a march that could be attended by more than a thousand people.
“We’ve got an awful lot accomplished in less than a week.”