Ingrid – January 22, 2018
Along with about 300,000 people, mostly women of all backgrounds and several men too, I took to the streets this past Saturday in Chicago’s Women’s March. While there are many reasons people marched, for me it was mostly to honor my great-great-great-grandmother Olivia Rose, who joined 11 other revolutionary women in founding The Danish Home in 1891.
What a strong woman GiGi (my nickname for Olivia Rose) and her fellow Danish Home pioneers were! To come from Denmark to a new country, set up homes, families and jobs, and establish a safe haven of care for generations of older adults is astounding to me.
As I was walking yesterday with people so passionate about change, calling for justice for women and other marginalized groups, I was reminded of other causes throughout history, namely women’s right to vote. In America, the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, after the voices of suffragettes across the nation clamored in solidarity for this basic civil right.
My GiGi would have been 59 years old when she was allowed the right to vote in the U.S. That must have been a triumph for her. I’m sure that another Danish Home founder and women’s rights activist, Miss Mary Thorsen, would have felt even more triumphant.
In Denmark, women were granted the right to vote in 1915, also after many years of campaigning. As for the Women’s March, last year people in Copenhagen and other cities across the world joined “sister marches,” demonstrating global support of the movement. In fact, nearly 700,000 people participated in over 400 solidarity events in 40 countries outside the U.S.
In Copenhagen, the march (spearheaded by Danish and American activists) went from the U.S. Embassy in Østerbro to the Danish parliament building in Christiansborg. It was one of the largest global events in Europe, with over 5,000 participants, despite the drizzly weather that day. Speakers at the Copenhagen march included activists, politicians, and various representatives of equality organizations. Incidentally, at this year’s Women’s March on Washington, Danish-American actress Scarlett Johansson was one of the kick-off speakers!
Knowing that the Copenhagen event was organized by American women living in Denmark, I took a peek at their Facebook posts (written in English, fortunately!). Spokeswoman Lesley Ann Brown wrote: “We need to co-create a space to stand together, under a banner of solidarity and community. We hope that you agree, and that you felt the love that we did.”
I sure felt the love in Chicago this year. After a long, but very meaningful day, I returned home and called Farfar at The Danish Home to tell him all about my experience. He asked me many questions and said he was sorry that his granddaughter, who is my roommate Lindsay, couldn’t be part of the day.
“She had to work,” I told him. Not one to miss a beat, Farfar said, “Well, I hope they’re paying her well in that job! All women deserve equal pay for equal work.”
I reminded him that The Danish Home has widened its doors as well, now welcoming people of all heritages and backgrounds. “I knew that, too,” said Farfar, “and I’m very glad of it.”