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How Utah Women Marked International Women's Day

Julia Ritchey, KUER
From top left: Victoria Petro-Eschler holds her daughter, Giulianna; Former U.S. Senate candidate Misty K. Snow talks with a friend; Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake, discusses legislation with constituents; two women show off their T-shirts.

Around Salt Lake and across the country, women showed solidarity on International Women’s Day — with some taking to the streets and others taking the day off.

At the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, against a backdrop of marble columns, dozens of women decked out in red shoes, dresses, hats and lipstick, mingled about the Rotunda to meet with lawmakers on the next-to-last day of the session.

For some, like Victoria Petro-Eschler, executive director of the Utah Women Unite Foundation, the day was a family affair.

“I brought the next generation. This is my little girl Giulianna,” she said. “How old are you Gules?”

“Two,” replied Giulianna, wearing a red hat with kitten ears, while perched on her mom's hip.

Petro-Eschler said as the primary income-earner for her family, it’s important that she advocate for issues she cares about, like clean air and paid maternity leave.

“We started the session with a march of about 10,000 people, and what we want to do is just let our legislators know that dialogue is continuing. There are a lot of things women are concerned about and it varies,” she said. 

Elswhere in Utah, some women even took the day off work as part of the national “Day Without A Woman” strike, to underline the critical role women play in today’s economy.

Across social media, women also posted selfies in red clothing and shared lists of local women-run businesses to patronize.

One of those businesses included the Buzzed Coffee Truck, which serves the Rose Park neighborhood. Like other small businesses, owner Trina Perez says she couldn’t afford to take the day off, but still wore red to show support.

Credit Julia Ritchey, KUER
Trina Perez, owner of the Buzzed Coffee Truck, couldn't afford to participate in the "Day Without a Woman" strike, but still wore red. She says there was an uptick in business anyway from people looking to patronize women-owned shops.

  “I was expecting a slower day because of the strike, or not spending money — I know a lot of women were protesting economically...but we, this morning, had such an outpouring of support and just a lot of positive feedback," she said. "And it made my heart happy.”

As she stood inside her truck, two of Perez’s regular customers, both women, came up to the window to order mochas. They said they’d also just learned about the strike and wished they had skipped work, too.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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