- This year’s event is a measure of the true success of the Women’s Marches of 2017. The Marches last year drew unprecedented crowds and saw the largest coordinated mass protest movement in history with five million people marching across the globe in defiance of bigotry, misogyny and injustice
- That is where it is coming from. It is this cultural and social change that we are after. To carry that momentum and to transform it into something tangible, it is really important that we come together again to regroup, to re-focus, to re-ignite
On January 21, 2017, there was a seismic shift felt around the world. In the wake of Donald Trump’s baffling and grim election to the presidency of the United States, a fire was kindled amongst women uniting to be heard.
Parks, sidewalks, town squares, and Capitol steps were lit up with ringing voices, flooded with defiant fists raised, and echoing with songs, affirmations, laughter and war cries. 673 marches, seven continents and five million people were cemented in history as one of the largest organised protests in history.
From an event bringing together more than two million people around the world, the Women’s March has grown into a movement — or, perhaps more accurately, a hub for a variety of movements.
Over the past year, the organisers of the original march have taken a broad-based approach, putting together events in partnership with groups focusing on racial justice, disability, and LGBTQ rights, to name a few. The result is less a unified front than a collection of organisations and individuals working for gender equality and social justice in their own ways.
Growing from strength to strength
Sometimes that structure can lead to division, as groups with different priorities or strategies chafe against one another. But it has also allowed the influence of the march to persist and grow. A year out, the voices of marchers are in more spaces than ever — in voter registration drives, in conversations about #MeToo and sexual harassment, and in political campaigns across the country, as women gear up to run for office in record numbers. And those voices, taken together, are a potent force in American politics in the Trump era.
In 2018, one year on from the first March in Washington, Australian women added their voices to the movement in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, the marches are beginning once again.
On the same day this year, women, men and children will again be marching in solidarity and in hope, seizing the momentum begun by the original calling and by initiatives like #MeToo and Time’s Up, to continue the fight against inequality.
In the lead up to the Australia’s partage, some of the women powering the movement in 2018 speak on why we must keep marching on.
“Women are demanding respect, justice, and equality”
This year’s event is a measure of the true success of the Women’s Marches of 2017. The Marches last year drew unprecedented crowds and saw the largest coordinated mass protest movement in history with five million people marching across the globe in defiance of bigotry, misogyny and injustice. These statistics are impressive, without a doubt, however, what has come in the wake of those marches has been even more tremendous. Galvanised by one another’s courage, inspired by the momentum of the collective and fed up with the status quo, women have come forward to demand change in unmatched numbers during 2017.
We, thus, find ourselves in a powerful moment for Women’s Rights.
Women are demanding respect, justice, and equality and are unrelenting in our determination, fueled as much by our detractors as our supporters. The initiatives that have grown this year such as #MeYoo, #MeNoMore and Time’s Up are outgrowths in spirit from the Women’s Marches,” says Mindy Freiband, co-founder of Women’s March Sydney.
“The change has to start with each of us”
Everyone [should be listening to the Marches]. The ubiquity of women’s experiences on the receiving end of gender bias cannot be overstated.
This is not an issue that relates to a few select individuals or groups, this is an issue that our daughters experience the first time they hear the expression “Don’t throw like a girl”, this is an issue that our sisters experience when they are told that they should “Smile and look pretty” for an interview, this is an issue our mothers experience when they take home a fraction of their male counterpart’s pay for the same work.
Shifting cultural mores depends upon massive, society-wide changes in attitude and understanding. The change has to start with each of us.
Iluka, a musician performing at the Women’s March 2018 says,
“It’s important that we come together again to regroup, to re-focus, to re-ignite”
There has been real momentum, especially in the last few months with the Weinstein case and however many hundreds of powerful men being accused of abusive or predatory behaviour—I think people are realising this is endemic, that this is a part of the culture we live in.
That is where it is coming from. It is this cultural and social change that we are after. To carry that momentum and to transform it into something tangible, it is really important that we come together again to regroup, to re-focus, to re-ignite.
Going back to that first march, what I realised and, again, what my generation is realising is that feminism in the 21st century has shifted its focus from legal equality to a discrimination that is harder to quantify and harder to fight.
I think we are realising that equality in law has not often translated into equality in practice. This is where the social and cultural shift needs to happen. That is why gathering, and marching, and getting out in the streets is so important to keep this momentum going.
“We need to turn all this anger into something really tangible”
We are talking momentum from last year, and what we need to do now is put that momentum into something tangible, and I think that is starting to happen. With the #MeToo, #MeNoMore, and the Time’s Up campaigns, which were gathering women’s voices, we need to turn all this anger into something really tangible. We need to open up conversations about intersectionality, which is something really important right now. And we need to start including men in the conversations about topics like sexual harassment, abuse, toxic masculinity, and accountability.
- Adapted from vox.com and www.elle.com.au