Two years ago, the Women’s March galvanized a movement to protect the rights of women and girls in the United States. That movement wasn’t about just one organization, one path, or one leader. Together, we marched with and for young women fighting for their future and 90-year-old grandmothers sharing their wisdom from the past. We kept pace with first-time mothers realizing that they, too, could find time to be activists. We marched in the light of our collective consciousness that, as Fannie Lou Hamer said, “nobody is free until everybody is free.” Like when the realities of Black women and their communities finally broke from the margins and into the mainstream, from erased and dismissed to core to the fabric of our society. Or when immigrant women knew that they are a part of what make this country great, and that the collective we will not let a wall define their humanity. We marched for possibility, and hope.
Armed with that hope, we took on some of our darkest days and channeled our hurt, anger, and fear toward reaffirming and forging a unified vision for this country: a country where all families are treated with equal dignity, hate is not the norm, immigrants are welcomed, reproductive freedom is a fundamental right and gender equality is a universal value. Uniting together toward a shared vision was a demonstration of the raw power of women – all women – and showed the world what women could achieve through solidarity. It fortified us for the fights ahead.
Since then, our commitment to this unified vision drove us to the streets and to the polls over and over again, and centered gender justice as essential to the national political agenda. And throughout that time, we learned a great deal, not the least of which was that women will lead us through this period. Women worked to save the ACA and to demand our government work for the people. Women demanded the right to live, work, and learn with safety and dignity. Women fueled dramatic cultural change and, in turn, saw their sisters run for office in historic numbers.
And that is why we will march again and again – to make evident women’s power and to support the critical need for women’s voices to be heard. And as we navigate these complicated waters, we know we are doing this work in the shadow of systems of bigotry designed to undermine us all. Yet despite these circumstances, it is our responsibility to build a world where we all can thrive, a world that does not cater to hatred and bigotry, including racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and ableism. At times, the movement for gender equality hasn’t always lived up to our highest values. There is still work that needs to be done, especially in service of Black and brown women, trans women, Jewish women, Muslim women, and women with disabilities. But we are committed to doing this work together, even when difficult and even as we examine our own prejudices. In marching we are setting ourselves on that path and redoubling our efforts to embody the change we want to see.
Our resolve will continue to be tested. Those who seek to tread on our basic rights will weaponize our diverse beliefs to sow discord and division. The only way to defend ourselves – and to combat and dismantle the structural and systemic oppressions of white supremacy, racism, and misogyny – is to do so working together, side by side. We’ve seen what it looks like to fight for the change we deserve. It looks like a barrier-breaking Congress with the largest number of women serving in history. It looks like women leading community campaigns for stronger and safer schools, for family-sustaining wages, for the supports they need for their families to thrive. It looks like survivors joining together to educate the public to transform our culture and to drive change in our laws. We can realize this change if we keep marching, and calling, and running for office, and demanding the world that we deserve. Together.