Half a million people attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. to advocate a wide range of issues, such as women’s rights, workers’ rights, immigration rights, LGBTQ+ rights and healthcare reform among many others; some of them issues that Trump has openly disparaged before.
It was and is a powerful statement of the fear and anger felt by many people at Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of America and a defiance of his statements, positions, and the policies he is therefore likely to enact. The plausibility he will give good on his promises was especially reinforced by his signing of the executive order defunding Planned Parenthood.
The Women’s March was not a march just for women, but for people of all races and identities. The march and its values belonged not just to Washington D.C. but to cities all over the country and all over the world. It was not merely an expression of unity in the U.S. but a phenomenon that had far reaching effects across the globe. People from all over the world from London, Britain to Nairobi, Kenya to Sydney, Australia participated in the march. Political scientists have determined that the demonstration is one of the largest single-day protests in U.S. history.
More importantly, will the momentum of the Women’s March endure with its volume of participants? Will it make a significant difference? The focus of the march, while emphasizing important policies, ranges widely from healthcare to women’s rights to environmental protection. Setting itself in opposition to most or all of Trump’s positions is not wrong, but the movement lacks focus. Without choosing a few issues to focus on, how can the protesters help the causes they advocate succeed? Through the Women’s March, protesters have simply voiced their objections, albeit loudly. The march is a statement, yes, but it does not create a lasting change. What will is the persistence to advocate these changes and see them through to the end.
Despite my criticisms, I believe the importance of the march is not to be underestimated. The event was a one-day event. Yet, it was an extraordinary affirmation of nationwide solidarity, and goes to show that we, the American people, exercising our right of peaceful assembly, will take a stand. We will not stand by passively if the policies passed by the government are abhorrent to us.
The preamble of the Constitution starts with “We, the people.” The march on Saturday reminded us of that. As America Ferrara said, “The president is not America, the [people] are.”