Women In Politics

Women’s Races Set Records and Push Closer to 50-50

Womens_Races_Set_RecordsIn the midst of a prolonged and chaotic election cycle, we paused to celebrate the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected vice president of the United States. We also took time to step back and look at the races beyond this historic win that pushed women’s progress closer to 50-50. Women across the country made several gains and moved the dial on representation. The Center for American Women and Politics reported that 134 women (25%) will serve in the 117th Congress, beating the 2019 record of 127 (23.7%). Of those women, 48 (9%) represent women of color, and 22 are non-incumbent winners.

While we have a long way to go to reach 50-50, these gains are still significant, and each win is worth celebrating.

Cori Bush made history on election day as the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress. Cori was one of at least 115 women of color running for Congress this year. She toppled a political dynasty to get the nomination, and later defeated her Republican rival with more than 75% of the vote.  A progressive activist, single mother, nurse, and pastor, ABC News reports that Cori spoke openly on the campaign trail about her struggle with paying taxes and surviving paycheck to paycheck. She has also been outspoken about her experiences facing homelessness and domestic violence at points in her life. She plans to take her lived experience with her to Congress, and her acceptance speech was impassioned, empowering, and move-to-tears inspiring. Running on some of our nation’s most important issues, she said, “this is our moment.” Her win exemplifies the power of having the courage to step outside of our comfort zone, and her victory proves that we’re in this together.

Marilyn Strickland, the former Mayor of Tacoma, Washington will be the first Korean-American woman ever elected to Congress and the first Black woman to represent Washington State at the federal level.

Wins in New Mexico by Deb Haaland, a Democrat, Yvette Herrell, a Republican, and Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, mean that New Mexico’s entire House delegation will consist of women of color. Ms. Herrell is also the first Republican Native American woman elected to Congress.

Nancy Mace will be the first Republican woman to represent South Carolina in Congress.

Cynthia Lummis, a Republican former congresswoman, will be the first woman to serve in the Senate from Wyoming.

Sarah McBride, elected to the Delaware Senate, will be the first transgender woman State Senator and the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official.

Chrisina Haswood is the youngest legislator elected to the Kansas State House.

The Northern Cheyenne Nation has elected all women for the first time ever as Tribal President, Vice President, and to fill all five open seats on the Tribal Council.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consist of all women for the first time since the board’s inception more than 150 years ago.

Women most often serve from a place of love. Cori Bush said in her acceptance speech that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

Every Vote Counts!

Every Vote CountsBy Friday, October 23, more than 50 million Americans had already cast their ballots in the 2020 election. Those ballots represent 36.5% of all the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, and election day (in case it’s not marked in RED on your calendar) is November 3. Many of these voters were women, casting their ballots for women up and down the ticket, and many other women plan to join them in the coming days. In fact, the Brookings Institute calls 2020 “The Year of the Woman Voter” and writes that this year’s election is being driven by the increasingly overwhelming determination of a significant number of women from every demographic.

Rebecca Sive, author of Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President, writes that the best way to counter the forces of misogyny is through political action. She also states that women’s mobilization to the polls started with the 2017 Women’s March and grew throughout the year as women decided to run for office in historic numbers and to take matters into their own hands, which includes marching again.

“When I attended the 2017 Chicago Women’s March, I experienced a movement that was 250,000 people strong, in which almost every person carried a sign expressing a fervent desire for a different world—a world where women have equal opportunities and are treated equally in every setting. Marchers wanted regime change. They still do,” Rebecca writes. “All you need to do to be a part of this regime change is believe that women deserve the same rights and opportunities as men and support this declaration of independence, of women, by women, and for women, to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.”

Women do deserve the same rights. We are the supermajority, and on November 3 we have the opportunity to make our voices heard and choose representation that looks like us – female! We can elect women from local offices, like the school board to the second highest office in the land. This is our chance to vote for women like us who know what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, women who know that you deserve equal pay, who value affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections, and women who are empowered and who can help you make your voice heard.

We need more women in elected positions. As you head to the polls, keep in mind that currently women represent 51% of the U.S. population, yet we make up only:

  • 25% of the U.S. Senate
  • 23% of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 29% of statewide elected executives
  • 29% of state legislative seats

One hundred years ago we saw the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, and four years ago we had a woman running for the highest office in the land. Every single vote matters—your vote matters! NPR reports that more than a dozen races over the last 20 years have been decided by a single vote. This year we can flex our collective muscle and – with every single vote – elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

If you have questions, the League of Women Voters has answers. Their Vote 411 is a one-stop-shop for election-related information. It provides nonpartisan information with both general and state-specific information as well as a polling place locator, which enables users to type in their address and retrieve the poll location for the voting precinct for that address.

How Sexism Blocks Women Candidates

Elizabeth WarreWhen the final two top tier Democrat presidential candidates dropped out of the presidential race, it became clear that the primary qualification they lacked was being a white man. Some may claim it was a lack of support, and others may cite a lack of momentum, but few can point to a lack of qualifications. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, as well as the other women that initially joined them in their bid – namely Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamela Harris – are all more than qualified with a proven track record of leadership in local, state, and national government, except that no woman has ever been president. Until we see a woman in that position, sexism will continue to be a hurdle blocking women candidates from being President.

Looking at their qualifications and their overall electability, the odds are good that their struggles had very little to do with their platforms, and everything to do with their gender. Warren’s loss in particular brought home the fact that for the second time in four years, an exceptionally qualified female candidate lost to her male counterparts — some of whom were far less qualified.

Sexism was definitely a factor in this campaign. While it may not have been THE factor, it carried weight. Female candidates had to prove their qualifications more than the men they were up against, and they had to deal with increased media scrutiny and gender bias, and they faced greater issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail than their male counterparts. All of which of course, was further amplified via social media.

Warren spoke about the gender “trap” Thursday.

“Gender in this race — you know, that is the trap question for every woman,” Warren said after announcing she would be suspending her campaign. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner.’ And if you say, ‘There was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

Melissa K. Miller, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told NBC News that this week’s events could make it harder for women running for president to succeed in the future. “Folks are convinced that a woman can’t win, so they don’t vote for a woman, thus ensuring that a woman doesn’t win, and the cycle continues. The reality is that a woman can win. Hillary Clinton’s victory by about 3 million popular votes in 2016 made that clear.”

Apparently, America isn’t ready for a woman president. However, it’s important to remember that we still have a number of women running down the ballot that can run their races and win, and they need our support. The first thing we can do is recognize the fact that gender bias is alive and well in politics, and the women running (and serving) now know it and face it every day. It is our responsibility to call out the comments that seek to undermine them, name them as biases and talk about them. To help more women represent us at every level we need to encourage them, counteract the public ridicule they often face, and offer them our support. Their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues that can make the world a better place for all of us is admirable and necessary. They are paving the way for that woman who will finally break through the sexism bias and become our first woman president.

Big Advancements in Gender Equality Expected in 2020

Gender Equality2020 is a shaping up to be a big year for advancements in gender equality. In fact, The Guardian reports that world leaders, civil society and the private sector are preparing to make 2020 the biggest year yet for the advancement of women’s rights. Building on previous events, commemorating positive shifts and goals  of note, supporting women leaders, and planning for new ways to close the gap are just a few of the ways that we can collectively continue our work to secure equal rights and opportunities for all.

For starters, thousands of people are expected to attend high-level UN events and forums in Mexico City and Paris to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the landmark agreement to end gender inequality. In addition to the Beijing anniversary, 2020 also marks two decades since UN Security Council Resolution 1325 first acknowledged women’s unique experience of conflict and their lack of involvement in peace negotiations, with anniversary events being planned for October. The New Year “also kicks off the 10-year countdown to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a commitment to end gender inequality by 2030.”

In the U.S., 2020 is also a year to celebrate as it marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. This historic anniversary offers an incredible opportunity to recognize an important milestone of our nation’s democracy and provides an ideal opportunity to explore its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative is serving as an informational clearinghouse, and publishing events hosted by local, state, and national groups who are working to, “remember the legacy of suffragists around the country with monuments, memorials, and projects that honor the life and work of the women who dedicated themselves to the fight for women’s equality.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that 2020 is an election year, and just as 2018 saw the biggest wave of women elected to government in history, with 2,133 women being sworn into America’s state legislatures.  Since the election, women also hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate and 101 seats in the House, voters can expect this year to provide more of the same momentum. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women are running and they need our help to win.

In fact, supporting the women running or preparing to run could very well be where we can have the greatest impact in the coming year. While all eyes tend to focus on the presidency and national or even statewide offices, we need to also look local as Kate Black, former chief of staff and vice president of research for EMILY’s List points out, “There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country.”

“It’s not just the 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Black said. “It’s this whole landscape that’s available to women.”

“If women run, women win,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said. So, whether it’s the school board, city government, state or national office, we need to lend our support to help another woman run. That is how we make our voices heard. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way and support those ready to follow their lead. It’s when women help women that we all win, and it is time to recognize the road we’ve traveled, support one another through what lies ahead, and do our part to make 2020 the biggest year ever for advancing gender equality.

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Vote_Her_In_Book_CoverConvinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.

Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all.  Originally recorded in October, 2018, Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president and Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year (2019), they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020.  She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out. (Rebecca was absolutely right. At this update, the field of six women running for President has thinned to four, but that’s still more than ever before at this stage of the campaign.)

In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.

Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

 

Supporting Women Who Lead Will Make the World a Better Place

Elizabeth WarrenWomen who lead put themselves in a position to be agents of change and make the world a better place. As Dr. Lois Phillips and Luz Reyes-Martin (two former podcast guests) point out, women often step out to lead in their communities to solve a problem that may endanger their children, families or neighbors, or issues they feel compelled to fight for. Often a small step, like speaking out at a school board meeting ultimately launches a later political campaign for public office. Today, we’re seeing an avalanche of such women as never before. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor’s office, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women nationwide are planning – and running – their campaigns and lining up their support. No matter where your party loyalties, it’s up to us to support them.

We all win when women lead. In fact, former President Barack Obama was recently quoted by the BBC as saying that he believes living standards and economic outcomes would improve if women led every country in the world. “Now, women, I just want you to know: you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you’re better than us [men]. I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything.”

The 2018 election was hailed as the “Year of the Woman” as women ran for office and voted in record numbers. The “Pink Wave” swept across the nation and carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics. As we approach the 2020 election, that wave doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

As podcast guest Rebecca Sive points out, women have been running, and winning, for years. In her book Vote Her In Rebecca references a handbook she wrote years ago, Every Day Is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House that advocates, “Campaigning to get to the head of the line as fast as possible, not by stepping on or over anyone else, but by working harder and faster. Succeeding as a woman in a man’s world (politics) by advocating for women—not by pretending that women and men have such similar needs and challenges that special attention to women (and the public policies that follow from it) isn’t needed. Dreaming and planning big, not because you think you are better than others, but because you’re willing to do the work and accept the responsibility for others that come with responsibility in high places.”

The women who are running for office this cycle ARE dreaming big and planning big. They are putting the issues on the front burner, and often putting their lives on the back. They are working to better their communities and taking responsibility for the betterment of the places they call home. We need to encourage them and offer them our support for their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues like health care, childcare and education for all that can make the world a better place for all of us. Reach out to help a like-minded woman you know who can be your voice and represent your values, and help her win. ‘Tis the season to support women who lead.

 

 

Women Running for Office Face Bias – Again

Women face biasWith so many women running for office (and winning), gender biases get lost among the tirade of political attacks. In the days following the 2018 election, more than 2,000 women were sworn into America’s state legislatures. 2,133 to be exact. Women also currently hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate, and 101 seats in the House. And we’re just getting started. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women nationwide are planning – or running – their campaigns and lining up their support, including the five women seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination.

Despite making the decision to run, putting the issues on the front burner, and often putting their lives on the back, women are once again dealing with gender bias and facing issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail. And this time it’s being further amplified via social media. A new study released by The Wilson Center’s Lucina di Meco, #She Persisted: Women, Politics and Power in the New Media World, found that while male and female candidates received a similar volume of attention on social media, “the nature of the coverage, however, revealed significant differences and systematic patterns along gender lines, with female candidates receiving more attacks from right-wing and fake-news accounts than male politicians.”

The study also found that female candidates are dealing with more negative social media coverage overall than their male counterparts, with tweets more concerned about a woman’s character rather than her policy stance. “Traditional media remains mostly an obstacle for women’s political ambitions, as the coverage women in politics receive is still heavily biased against them, both in quantity and in quality, and this has a negative impact on women’s political ambitions, viability as candidates and ultimately on societal expectations of women and power.”

Women who step out to lead face  a modern twist from these attacks. . It’s a fact that all women in the public eye draw criticism and commentary, not just for their politics and policies, but also for their appearance, their parenting, their partners, their careers…the list goes on.

Take the case of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While she pulled off an incredible political achievement – waging an effective campaign to win a seat in the House – during her campaign, critics were quick to critique her words and question whether she should have a voice in the public debate at all. Vox reported on a tweet about her by the often-quoted voice of the Washington establishment Norm Ornstein: “This is a person not ready for prime time, certainly not ready for Congress. She should stop campaigning & do a crash course on basics, including economics and foreign policy. Otherwise, she will stumble badly out of the blocks and do major damage. Early impressions hard to erase.”

Whether online or off, gender bias is alive and well in politics, and the women running (and serving) now know it and face it every day. As we gear up for another election season, we have to call out the comments that seek to undermine women, name them as biases and talk about them. To help more women step into leadership roles, we need to encourage them, counteract the public ridicule they often face, and offer them our support for their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues that can make the world a better place for all of us.

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

Speak Your Truth with Personal Passion

Laurie Coskey

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Women should speak their truth about whatever incites their personal passion, urges Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., whether that is the environment, the homeless, prejudice against various groups—in whatever way you can. It may mean joining the Rotary in your community (Laurie is a long-time member); you might join the PTA; you could volunteer at a victim’s center. Whatever stirs your passion, reach out to others and work together to make positive change. As a social justice advocate, Laurie’s lifework is to obtain fairness and dignity for everyone and she works tirelessly to achieve it for people who don’t have enough power to do it for themselves..
Her commitment to improving the lives of those in need is inspired by her Jewish background, her chosen vocation of rabbi, and her belief that the greatest gift we have to give one another is our love. In that regard, she serves on various boards in San Diego including the Interfaith Worker Justice. Her work there inspired her powerful TEDx Talk about the San Diego interfaith clergy who reached out to officials to stop disappearing immigrants and their families in 2007.

To Create Real Change, We Must Change the Systems.

Laurie realized the importance of changing systems, which she chose as the subject for her doctoral study. She continues to win victories for the issues she is passionate about through negotiation and teamwork. As an advocate, she learned not to lead the people who need her advocacy, but instead to walk beside them and help amplify their voices.
In this interview, she tells a heroic story about janitorial workers in office buildings organizing for better working conditions. The women who do the work are often single mothers who may speak little or no English and they work for male supervisors at night, who can control them through rewards or penalties based on sexual favors. These courageous, powerless women overcame their fear and stood up and spoke out. They do not participate in the #MeToo movement, but the activists who are helping them did appear at the Grammy Awards this year. Things are changing, Laurie says, one squeaky wheel at a time.

Our Lives Will Change When Women Become Legislators

Dr. Nancy and Rabbi Laurie share their concern that women’s perspective is often ignored. The male perspective has created our current system and to change it women must get involved. Besides getting involved in our communities, Laurie encourages women to run for public office, while admitting that it is a huge commitment to serve in elected office. Things really will not change until we make different policies, which women can do by winning elected office at their community, state or national level. She stresses that with so few women at the top of our organizations, it’s time for women not just to integrate, but to lead. That is when we will see significant change that affects everyone’s daily lives.
Listen to this interview for more wonderful stories about Laurie’s life and experiences. She invites anyone who would like a personal rabbi (Jewish or not) to contact her via twitter, Facebook or Linked-In. She is happy to listen and reply. Check out this news video about Laurie’s work in San Diego for more inspiration about what a difference community involvement can make.

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!

March
Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls

Rally
This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

ROAR Rally

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

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