Collage by Romi Geller
On January 21st, 2017, we made history, and it was only the beginning.
The women’s march was a highly anticipated protest that brought attention to women’s rights around the globe. Originally to take place in Washington, D.C., news of the march ignited a rippling effect globally and inspired over 673 "sister marches" in and outside of the United States. Millions of intersectional feminist of all gender, class, religion, and sexual orientation took to the streets to protect all women's rights.
We asked the organizers from several Women's Marches what the march meant to them, their thoughts on feminism, and what actions we can take to continue the progress long after the marches have returned home.
Below are the featured organizers and their contacts:
Emiliana Guereca and Deena Katz,
Laura Johnson and Klaountia Pasmatsiou,
Co-organizers for Women’s March Cleveland
How do we continue the progress the march created?
Simone Laurent (SL): There are so many ways to stay involved and we will be helping provide folks with some direct actions they can take. For example, the national organizers have released a “10 in 100” plan where every 10 days they will be releasing a new action. The first is to write postcards to your Senators to let them know what is most important to you and how you plan to protect it.
I would say the first steps people need to take is to find out who their representatives are, on every level, federal, state, and local. You then need to keep up with what bills and policies are facing votes, again on the federal, state, and local level, and call those reps on a regular basis to keep them accountable. Countable is a great app to get folk started in this kind of action. It will give you info on bills and provide you easy ways to contact your reps! Then if your reps don’t vote the way you would like and don’t protect the things that are important to you, that’s when you take action in the midterm elections to vote them out.
Emiliana Guerra (EG): The way we keep it going is by giving people action items, by people organizing people, educating people on what is at stake at every election at every turn. We are going to be releasing a new initiative around this that we are excited to share soon.
LJ & KP: One of our goals for the march was to bring people together to network and learn about different groups or organizations they can join, donate, or volunteer for. For example, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, National Council of Jewish Women, League of Women Voters, Preterm, etc. These organizations have many things they are doing to keep the progress of the march going.
What was the overall message for your local march?
SL: Our message was one of positivity, love and unity, to stand together in protecting the most marginalized among us. We stood together, shoulder to shoulder, to show our numbers are too great to ignore and our new administration must hear our voice. Our goal is to build each other up, not to tear anyone down.
DK: The overall message of the march was unity and standing together to support the causes we all believe in that support human rights. We are all here together in this, and we want our voices to be heard. We are many, we are strong and we are powerful.
LJ & KP: LOCAL MESSAGE - Women in Ohio have to deal with multiple issues, which impede our everyday lives. For instance, Ohio women on average are paid 22% less than men. Part of this comes from the fact that women often bear more of the task of raising children causing them to fall behind in their career or even have to quit their job. We are the only industrialized nation not to have federally mandated paid maternity leave. Furthermore, Ohio’s legislature is threatening to take away reproductive rights. They passed the heartbeat bill, which bans abortion at 6 weeks. This decision was vetoed, but a 20 week ban was signed. This is the first step to take away women’s control over their own bodies. Additionally, there are proposals to restrict millions of American’s access to healthcare by repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides women with essential reproductive services at an affordable cost. Losing these services will be detrimental to women’s access to health care. We hope to inspire Ohio women to come together and stay active about important social issues.
LAURA & CLAUDIA’S PERSONAL MESSAGE - We are two physics graduate students at Case Western Reserve University. This is a grassroots movement and our first time organizing a major event. One afternoon while taking a break from research in our office, we discovered the Women’s March on Washington. We aren’t able to go all the way to Washington, and saw that many cities were hosting sister marches, but were disappointed to find that Cleveland wasn’t on the map. So we decided to take action and organize a local event. As physicists, we work in a male-dominated field. Growing up, female role models in science were few and primarily remained hidden figures. We never imagined we’d grow up to study the universe. We hope to inspire
What is a specific Women's rights issue you are passionate about?
SL: As a sexual abuse survivor, I want to see an end to rape culture. I believe that starts by shifti