The Women's March Sharpens Its Focus to Propel Everyone Forward
At no other time in America’s history has a single-day protest been as large as the Women’s Marches of 2017. The march turnouts eclipsed those against the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and even outnumbered the 1963 Civil Rights march.
A historic event
A year ago this January, nearly 3.3 million people gathered in cities small and large across the country to support and defend a myriad of issues concerning women, children, and families. Though the women’s march began as a Washington D.C.-based event, over 500 additional cities organized sister marches as word of the founding protest spread through social media.
The metropolises of Los Angeles and New York City each saw half a million people pour through downtown streets on January 21, 2017, while at least 2,000 women simultaneously assembled in Fairbanks, Alaska in sub-zero temperatures. According to one count by The Washington Post, 68 percent of sister marches had up to 1,000 people.
And the desire to participate in the movement extended itself far beyond US borders. Women and men peacefully took to the streets in 32 more countries, from Canada to Belarus to New Zealand. In all, an estimated total of 672 sister marches united protesters under the shared goal of protecting freedom and democracy for all.
the Common Thread that ran through 2017
From the explosive start of 2017 emerged what became the theme of the year: The power of accountability. The global women’s marches forced down the walls that traditionally surround conversations on women’s rights and the policies created to protect (or prevent) them. Feminist icon and activist Gloria Steinem best summarized the heart and soul of the marches, stating, “This is an outpouring of love and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. “
Though the women’s marches were not explicitly founded to combat sexual harassment, they undeniably did make space for the topic in the national conversation. Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory commented on the emergence of #MeToo and other women-centered campaigns, stating, “The women’s march set women on fire…[it’s] provided an opportunity for women to understand our collective power and to understand that the more public we are, the more we have an opportunity to bring our issues to the forefront.”
At the close of 2017, we witnessed the emergence of Time’s Up — a legal fund currently raising over $15 million to help victims of sexual assault; the powerful Time Magazine cover featuring “The Silence Breakers” and the promise of a Golden Globes black-out which would see Hollywood royalty wearing all-black and accompanied by female activists in an effort to bring awareness to women’s issues.
And better yet?
More women than ever before are running for office in 2018, from the US Senate to state legislatures and school district boards.
What’s Different in 2018?
March organizers have listened to last year’s concerns and constructive criticism and adjusted the march lineup to be more inclusive.
In the past, intersectionality in feminism arguably has been overlooked. Many black women, other racial minority groups, gender non-conforming individuals, and members of the transgender community have expressed a lack of focus on their particular plights. Mallory and other chairs of the march intend to break down those doors yet again, embracing intersectionality by including other diversity issues into the lineup and organization as a whole.
Also significant, this year’s march is capitalizing on the motivation to elect more women by launching #PowerToThePolls in Las Vegas on January 21st. A national voter registration tour, the program is designed to support more women and progressive candidates in domestic congressional, gubernatorial, and local elections.
Want to get involved? All you have to do is find a march near you and go. Together, we can put ourselves first and change the course of 2018 — just like we did last year.
By Elisabeth Apanda