Civil Rights

Why women are marching on Washington

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The day to be in Washington arrived, but it wasn’t Inauguration Day. A day after President Trump was inaugurated, 200,000 people are expected to attend the Women’s March on Washington; nearly a million others will participate in over 600 sister city events. Starting as a Facebook post, the grassroots protest is set to make history as the largest post-inauguration demonstration.

Yet until late last week, some — including protesters — were still wondering, why exactly women were marching. Now, the vision of the Women’s March is clear: It sets forth a new progressive agenda to promote and protect the rights of all.

The platform’s guiding principles are an obvious response to the concerns of many groups attacked by candidate — and now president — Trump. Equity and nondiscrimination for the elderly, the disabled, women of color, and LGBTQ people runs as a theme throughout the document.

{mosads}The election of Trump has accomplished one thing: It has unified and mobilized those he has targeted. His opposition now seems ready to resist.


Grounded in human rights, the Women’s March platform underscores that freedoms are universal and interdependent. Core American values — freedom of speech, religion and participation in government, particularly for vulnerable groups — are emphasized.

But the agenda does more than reaffirm our constitutionally enshrined civil and political rights.

Through its pro-women, pro-poor and anti-racist language, it advances the unfinished work of the civil rights and feminist movements. The agenda calls for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment, worker’s rights, and comprehensive immigration reform. Among the platform’s most salient points is the struggle for reproductive healthcare, which is already under attack. So far, such attacks have been met with resistance. Aligned resistance is a hallmark of the Women’s March movement.

The organizers pride themselves on their broad, intersectional and horizontal leadership. Contemporary movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter that have utilized similar non-structures have been criticized for their amorphous agendas and respective strategies.

Following a few early missteps, the Women’s March movement could easily have fallen victim to the same pitfalls. Instead, it has mobilized the masses and advanced a principled progressive platform toward the defense and expansion of democracy.

It leverages the advances of Native American allies and the struggles of Flint, Michigan residents by calling for environmental protections of air, water and land. Individual violence — rape, trafficking and intimate partner violence are rejected; racial profiling, police brutality, militarization and mass incarceration — all forms of institutional violence — are similarly disavowed.

We now know why women are marching, and what they are marching for. Saturday, Washington will be swarming with calls to hear our voice or expect resistance. Legislators must heed our call to resist rollbacks and push forward a new progressive agenda.

Dabney P. Evans is an assistant professor and director of the Institute of Human Rights at Emory University. She is participating in the Women’s March on Washington.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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