Stella Pagkas, Social Media Manager
January 19, 2019, an estimated 840,000 to 1,000,000 people marched in 325 women’s marches around the country. In San Jose, as many as 18,000 people marched. But for every person with a “Girl Power” or “Nasty Woman” sign, there’s someone patronizing them, labeling marches as useless, and a waste of time. And it’s true that after the march ended, protestors went back to their normal lives and the American patriarchy, as well as the often-misogynistic Trump administration, continued as usual. So why march? Because it has worked before, and because we can.
Marching for women’s rights is nothing new. In 1915, more than 40,000 people marched in New York City for women’s suffrage. Like today’s marchers, these women carried signs and flags and marched in spite of those that thought they wouldn’t succeed or didn’t want them to. And these women found success. The 19th Amendment went into effect in 1920, finally granting women the vote that they had been fighting for for decades.
Just in the last decade, women have improved their circumstances all over the world through marches and protests. In October 2016, women in Poland took to the streets after a proposed plan threatened to make abortion illegal in all cases except when the mother’s life was in danger, with a penalty of five years in jail for breaking the law. 100,000 women dressed in black protested the plan, and it was eventually rejected by Poland’s parliament.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, tens of thousands of women marched in protest of violence against women after the murders of two young girls sparked national outrage. This march against femicide prompted the Argentinian government to create a registry documenting all femicides, and the president Mauricio Macri also created a plan to end violence against women in Argentina.
In the United States, women march for reasons as diverse as they are. One woman at the 2019 march, who declined to be named, said that she marches for “thousands of reasons,” and because she “would like to not be dictated by the government.” She, like many other women at the march, “believe[s] in a woman’s right to choose [abortion].”
Mia Lawson-Henze, a junior at Leigh, marches because she’s “frustrated with the current political situation in our country” and because she wants to “make a statement that [her] America is one of inclusivity, not exclusion.”
However, no matter personal beliefs, everyone who marches does so because they are able to. Lawson-Henze said, “I’m in a position where I have the ability to march and I feel by doing so, [I] contribute to change.” For centuries, women were not able to show solidarity or fight actively for their own rights. Even now, women around the world are silenced and held back. To be able to march openly with thousands of other people in support of reproductive rights or equal pay is itself revolutionary.
This year, the United States women’s marches may not incite any radical legislative change. But they are a celebration of a changing culture in which women can more openly and safely advocate for themselves than any other time in history. In spite of, and often because of those that want to silence them, women will keep marching, and like the suffragettes and the protesters in Poland and Argentina, they will create real change. The Women’s Wave is here to stay, and we march because we know that the revolution is already underway.