Hundreds gathered outside of the Pittsburgh City-County Building in the freezing rain on Saturday for the fourth annual Women's March. Attendees heard from several political candidates, mostly women, running for elected office this year and then marched from the City-County Building to Market Square.
Many of the speakers offered similar messages: More women need to be elected to state office; the state needs to provide more fairness for women and the LGBTQ community; and more legislative seats in Pennsylvania need to be flipped from red to blue.
Among candidates speaking was Christina Hartman, who is one of several Democrats running for state Auditor General.
"We are spending a lot of tax dollars on our schools and yet they're still in poor condition, that just doesn't add up," said Hartman, of Lancaster. "Women are still getting paid significantly less than men, especially women of color and that also doesn't add up."
Hartman said there currently aren't any women elected to statewide office, and that there needs to be more representation.
Some candidates spoke on women's reproductive rights, including Dan Smith, an openly gay man running against state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a hardline conservative from Butler County who has often outraged the LGBTQ community and others in the past.
"Daryl Metcalfe has been constantly putting women's issues and reproductive rights on the block every term in Pennsylvania, and I've had enough," Smith said. "Those people in the legislature have no reason whatsoever to tell women what to do with their bodies, just as they have no reason to tell who I should love or don't love."
Similar marches were held all over the country Saturday, the fourth such event since 2017, when marches called for women to mobilize after the election of Donald Trump. The first rally was an early sign of years' worth of grassroots opposition to the President, who is now on the eve of an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. But some attendees also cited problems closer to home as a reason to attend, including a Gender Equity Commission report last year that revealed that Pittsburgh is one of America's least hospitable cities for black women.
Jarah Doose said the report was unsurprising.
"We've known for years that Pittsburgh is not the place for black women," she said. "But now that it's out in the open and people can't deny it, it's time for women to take that and run with it."
Keisha Holt said she believes the report reflected the frequent invisibility of the city's black community.
"I am originally from New York City and when I moved to Pittsburgh I wondered where all of the black people were," she said. "As many times as I went out with my co-workers, I'd find myself being the only black person. I think it's very important that we come here and find solidarity with each other."