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Firefighters Head to DC for Women's March

Brenda Berkman, one of the first women firefighters in New York City, joined the FDNY in 1982. (Brenda Berkman)
Brenda Berkman, one of the first women firefighters in New York City, joined the FDNY in 1982. (Brenda Berkman)
January 19, 2017

NEW YORK – Pioneering women firefighters will be among the tens of thousands of women and men participating in the Women's March on Washington this Saturday.

In the late 1970s, Brenda Berkman filed a sex discrimination suit against the New York City Fire Department and went on to serve 25 years in what had been an all male profession. She retired a captain.

Berkman says one primary reason that she and other trailblazers for women's rights will be marching can be boiled down to one word – visibility.

"Many of us who struggled to bring women's issues into the spotlight, to advocate for equality, are afraid that women's issues are going to be pushed back into the dark,” she explains.

Organizers are expecting about 200,000 women from all over the country to march in the nation's capital on the day after Donald Trump is sworn in as 45th president of the United States.

Sarinya Srisakul, president of the New York City Chapter of United Women Firefighters, also will be among those marching. She maintains this election cycle has shown many women that sexism and misogyny still are alive in this country.

"I know a lot of us do experience it in the workplace, but to see it on this national stage and at this scope, I think that is a big part of mobilizing a lot of people," she states.

About 1,200 bus-parking permits have been applied for in Washington on the day of the march, compared with 200 that applied for Inauguration Day on Friday.

Berkman used a Facebook page to put out a call for women firefighters to join the march, and she says she received responses from all over the country.

"We have women coming from Illinois and California and Colorado, from Maryland and Virginia to march with the Women Firefighters Contingent," she states.

The official rally starts at 10 a.m. near Third Street and Independence Avenue, and the march will be begin at 1 p.m.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY