Legions of women globally march for equal rights
Millions of people from all walks of life come together to march for equal rights
February 8, 2017
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On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Women’s March on Chicago was one of more than 250 peaceful protests that took place globally in reaction to President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The goal of the march was to bring women’s rights issues, and many others, to the attention of the new administration.
50,000 people were expected to attend the rally held in downtown Chicago, followed by a march from Grant Park down Jackson Blvd towards Federal Plaza.
With a turnout of an estimated 250,000 people, there where too many people to march on the scheduled route. However, the marchers proceeded in order to send a message.
Many New Trier students and faculty attended the march. Senior Vince Park, who campaigned for Hillary and Illinois Democrats during the election, attended the Women’s March on Chicago. Park said, “I was exposed to lots of issues that deeply concerned me, particularly women’s and disability rights. By participating in the Women’s March, I could express my beliefs and spend time with other people who are passionate about these issues.”
Being surrounded by like-minded people motivated many students, like Park, to attend the march.
Senior Lisa Vetyuhova said, “It was important for me to voice my beliefs amongst people equally as passionate as I was, especially after so many were quiet or silenced during the past year. I marched not only for women’s rights, but also for everyone who is marginalized and oppressed.”
Senior Annabel Weyhrich agreed, “I couldn’t justify sitting around my home if in the future I’d say, ‘It’s ridiculous our government is restricting my right to choose.’ If there was anytime at all to take action, this is the time.”
The march’s goal of bringing people together to peacefully protest a wide range of issues, Weyhrich said, “Was super effective in showing that all across the world, people, specifically women, are banding together to show that if anything, angry people get stuff done.”
Park agreed, “The march was successful in bringing to national attention many different issues. It allowed diverse groups to express themselves in ways that might not have been possible in politics.”
However, many feel that not all women were represented. Many signs used at protests around the world used imagery of the female reproductive system. This caused controversy within the transgender community. Junior Arielle Imber commented, “Using the female anatomy to symbolize feminism is sloppy and exclusive. Feminism needs to combat more than just shaming, equal pay, and reproductive rights. Feminism needs to address homophobia, transophobia, racism, classism, albeism, every type of divisive ‘ism.’”
Others point out the stigma of “white feminism” that was present in many demonstrations globally. Weyhrich said, “White feminism happens when white women fight for equal pay, abortion rights and they fight against rape culture-which is important- but they turn a blind eye to the fact that women of color also have to fight against racial injustice. I hope in the next four years, within our gender’s fight for equality, we can eliminate the racist gap and really include all women.”
A record breaking 101 women have been elected to the 114th congress beginning this year, including Illinois’ own Tammy Duckworth. Among them is the first black Republican woman to be elected to Congress, Mia Love.
However, the glass ceiling has not been shattered yet. While women make up nearly 64% of the electorate, they make up only 19.4% of Congress.
Park said, “Congress is not reflective of American society and results in an underrepresentation of women and women’s interests. It’s very important to get more women involved in the political process to break the glass ceiling, whether it be lobbying policymakers or even running for office.”
While the Women’s March didn’t result in any immediate political action, the march successfully brought multiple issues to the attention of people around the world. As Vetyuhova explained, “The march showed the power of peaceful protest and displayed the strength of community and unity. Most of all, it showed me that you don’t have to be a certain age to stand behind something and fight for it.”