The beginning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency spurred a wave of feminism and women-led activism that has been ongoing for over two years. In 2017, the National Women’s March captivated the minds and attention of Americans nationwide, inspiring hundreds of women to run for public office and participate in national elections. The Women’s March on Saturday, January 19, 2019, marked two years of advocating for strong women. It was a fierce declaration to protect and defend their rights, safety, communities, and health. The march aimed to raise awareness and increase understanding of women’s needs in social change and public policy, targeting issues such as health care, which is not equally accessible nor affordable for black, Hispanic, trans*, disabled, and Indigenous women.
The annual event is organized by women who work directly with impacted communities, expanding the Unity Principle established in 2017 to represent marginalized and vulnerable women. Annual marches work to encourage progression in policy priorities in ending violence against women and femmes, ending state violence, LGBTQIA+ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights and justice, racial justice, economic justice and worker’s rights, civil rights and liberties, disability rights, and environmental justice.
The #WomensWave swept through cities across the country, including Concord, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts. Several Saint Anselm students participated in the marches, and their support for the cause was overwhelming. When The Hilltopper asked Liz Moore ’19 why she marched in Concord, she answered, “Because women are still afraid to walk alone in a city and because 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. As long as this statistic is this high, we need feminism and we need this march.”
Taylor Head ’19 supported Moore’s reasoning, saying she embraced the atmosphere where “everyone’s opinions [are] respected and celebrated at the march.” She went on to add, “I loved the environment of the women’s march and genuinely do feel like our generation is going make changes for women of those voices silenced long ago.”
When asked why she participated, Moore stated that she personally benefits from the experience: “It’s empowering to see strong, confident women (and men!) standing up for themselves and talking about the problems in our country rather than simply pushing them under the rug.”
How much can a difference can a small demonstration make? Moore answers: “Even though I’m just one person, I’m confident that my participation in the march made a difference. Each person there was just one person, but together we were a unit. A group of people standing in unity and solidarity is impactful and very powerful.”
The national movement has not only garnered intense media attention but has increased its number of supporters. Cassidy Diaz ’19, marched in Concord because of her newfound awareness about the lack of gender equality. Just a few months ago, Cassidy considered herself an “antifeminist”— her views of the world abruptly changed after taking “The History of Feminism Through Literature.” “Professor Holbrook opened my eyes to the many ways women AND men are treated unfairly just because of their gender,” says Diaz, “and this inspired me to attend the Woman’s March because I truly believe that this needs to change.”
Diaz admits she believes her impact is subtle but important nonetheless. While she says many people asked about her participation which spurred great conversation, Diaz says, “I don’t think I am really making a difference by attending these kinds of marches… I’m not usually the person to scream my views and opinions from the rooftops. But, I think the difference these marches make [is] in the people that attend them, like myself. It gave me an opportunity to educate myself further on feminism issues and the actions and lack of actions that are taking place in the world.”
Many agree the marches offer exposure to increase awareness of pressing issues. Moore hoped that by participating in the march she would mindset. “I was able to talk with and listen to women of all walks of life that wanted to make their voices heard, and I was exposed to more issues than I initially thought there were,” she says.
Her sentiment was echoed by Diaz, who said, “These marches are extremely inspiring and [it’s] encouraging to see how many people also care about the same issues you care about.”
When asked what she hopes to communicate to other women, Moore stated strongly, “I hope to communicate to other women that even if you might not feel oppressed or endangered, there are numerous women that are… Girls supporting girls is a powerful thing!” Girls supporting girls is the backbone of the marches, inviting new supporters, such as Diaz, to explore issues that beg attention.
“Even though I’m not your typical feminist and my opinions don’t exactly align with a typical feminist,’” Diaz says, “this march definitely showed me the importance of listening to other people’s opinions even if you don’t agree.” Moore, Diaz, and Head collectively agree they will be participating in future marches.
A fight for women everywhere, the Women’s March is an important part of the modern feminist movement around the country. Raising awareness and increasing representation for all women is a slow and tedious process, though women are steadily and powerfully making their voices heard—one step at a time.