The Women's March: The World's Passionate Plea To Help Women Everywhere
Who run the world? Girls.
This past Saturday was certainly an interesting and historic day, not only for the United States, but for the world. I don't think anyone quite expected the a record-breaking turnout and support for the Women's March on Washington and it's sister marches that they actually received, over 5 million women, men, and children (and even some dogs!) from all walks of life all around the world, according to the march's official site. I was at the Women's March on New York City, and it was truly one of the most unique experiences I have ever had.
While the name of the march should be enough to explain the purpose and cause for Saturday's event, new coverage and social media reactions from private citizens, celebrities, and politicians alike proved that people weren't quite sure what to make of the day, and it even made some people quite nervous.
According to the Women's March On Washington official website, the purpose of Saturday's march was to "stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families—recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country."
Having been there, my interpretation of the march was that there are so many people around the world who feel like they need their voice to be heard. People from red and blue states, people from first world and third world countries, all coming together to march means that people want to be a part of the larger conversation. People are starting to realize that effecting change doesn't end when you leave the voting booth, and that their voices are valuable. It seemed to me like people were finally wising up and saying that not only can they choose people to fight for their rights in government, but they can use their voices to fight for their rights themselves.
The Women's March On Washington reports that there were 673 sister marches that took place all over the country and all over the world, with an estimated 4,834,000 participants. Marches took places not only in DC, but all 50 states, with some states holding as many as 47 marches in different parts of the state. Guam and Puerto Rico, territories of the United States, also participated in the march, as well as 81 other countries and territories from Antarctica to Madagascar, with as many as 19 marches happening throughout one country.
That is a lot of women. That is a lot of women, men, and children, marching and protesting for women's rights and equality throughout the world. That is a huge movement of people who cannot, should not, and will not be ignored.
Something that struck me as interesting was the interpretation of the march in the media throughout the day, and later by members of the government and our new president. In the morning, before I left for the NYC march, reporters live on the scene at various marches throughout the country seemed genuinely baffled that this wasn't just an abortion and health care issues march, as though no one had any idea that women cared about more issues that just abortion and health care.
Granted, health care and abortion were huge topics behind the march, and they are issues that are important to discuss, no matter what side you are on. But of course women were marching for more things than just health care! Because women care about more things than just health care! Women care about politics, immigration, the economy, equal rights, gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, national security, protecting the environtment and health care. So, naturally, the women's march championed all of the diverse, important issues that women care about and feel need addressing not only by our government, but by the world. The overall theme was equality for everyone, everywhere, on everything!
The vibe of the march on New York City was positive and passionate with a sense of urgency but also respect. It was my first time ever hearing people say excuse me and apologize for bumping into each other on the streets of New York City. People were making friends and cheering together and talking about issues together. People even started chants and cheers to thank the NYPD for helping to keep the march safe and respecting everyone's right to march. Sure, there were some angry chants about President Trump and some equally angry signs, but people were being nice to one another and respectful of law enforcement, something that New York news outlets didn't report much about in their coverage of the event. Of course, I can only report on what I saw from where I stood, but I can't imagine that other NYC marchers wouldn't agree with my description of the march.
Once I got home from the march and turned on the news, that's when the overall message by the media went from "oh my goodness, look at all the things women care about" to "this was a giant, world-wide anti-Trump rally."
Now, this is a trickier message to dive into, because I would be lying if I said that people's opinions on Trump, his administration, and his policies were not brought up at all and had no place at the march. They did. The people I was surrounded by were mad at Trump, and it showed.
But for me, this wasn't an anti-Trump rally. At least, that isn't why I marched. I marched for all of the strong women in my life, for the strong women of the world, and for myself. I marched because women deserve to be treated like equal citizens, paid the same wage for the same work, provided appropriate and affordable health care regardless of their religion, political leaning, sexual orientation, skin color, or anything else. I marched because these are things that are important to me, and I wanted President Trump and the world to know that women's rights are human rights, and that just because American women are among the most fortunate women in the world, doesn't mean that the fight is over and that things are 100% just and fair yet.
It was less a hatred of Donald Trump and more of an attempt to let him know that no, I did not vote for him, but that doesn't mean that I refuse to work with him on issues that will effect me, my family, my friends, my future children, and people I don't know. It was letting him know that these issues are important, and that so many people demand reform on so many issues. It was an attempt to reach him through the power of showing up and having a voice, instead of sitting by and not participating in the global conversation and then wondering why my voice isn't being heard.
I know that some people who didn't attend the march were frightened by the amount of people that mobilized and protested on Saturday, but we should be seeing this as a positive thing. People are so passionate about helping the world and being part of the global conversation on human rights that they gave up a Saturday and marched through their city's streets in the cold, defending their rights. If we all agree to truly listen to one another, instead of immediately tuning out those who we disagree with, there is no end to what we can do. I know that everyone is saying this now, so it is kind of losing it's power, but this is the time that we as a nation, and as a global community, need to come together and listen to one another. Not to 100% agree on everything, but to acknowledge each other's right to have opinions and find common ground. If we can all do that, imagine the things that we can accomplish. Imagine the world we can leave our children if we take last Saturday's march as a symbol that we need to stop ignoring, and start listening.