The Women’s Marches re-invigorated and re-inspired the feminist movement—and our community continues to march on. They open up about activism in our Ms. Marches series. (Join the Ms. Marches Facebook group to find protests—and feminists!—near you.)
It’s a new year, and there’s a distinct feeling that movement organizers are collectively tired. The past three years have been intense on so many levels, and throughout it all, we have stayed true to the purpose of grassroots organizing and have continued to show up, speak out, unite and put our bodies on the line for our collective liberation. The cost has been our well-being: we’re feeling mental and emotional fatigue, physical exhaustion and burn out.
Why are we so tired? The fight hasn’t gotten easier. Our rights continue to be challenged, the climate crisis continues to worsen affecting women and girls first and foremost, women’s bodily autonomy continues to be a subject for white men and male leaders to dictate and enforce, white feminism continues to burden grassroots organizers of color, grassroots organizers and communities continue to face many barriers to entry from prerequisite knowledge to exclusionary hierarchical practices, women’s rights issues continue to be underfunded and forced to focus on mobilizing resources rather than building our collective power—and governments, corporate interests and the elite continue to unify to ensure their interests are served over others.
The irony is that protests continue to be a catalyst for change both politically and for changing social norms. When people show up in numbers impossible to ignore, it puts leaders on notice.
Last year, the Stanford Business review published a piece by researcher Daniel Gillion finding that the “volume and intensity of progressive protests have been higher in 2018 than at any time since the late 1960s.” Protests are “a form of information-gathering,” Gillion says. “When politicians run for office, they try to know every single issue in their backyard as well as the sentiments of their constituents. Protests are a way of signaling discontent, and they inform politicians about the most salient issues.”
We know the impact movements have on moving the needle. When we show up and speak out we can make what seemed impossible possible.
Take, for example, the 119 year old law crimalzing abortion in New South Wales, Australia. Last year, Women’s March Sydney, in partnership with grassroots organizations, coordinated a series of educational and awareness raising actions in the lead-up to the vote; because of their commitment and presence, having an abortion is no longer a criminal offense there.
I march because I know that every single action and every single voice in this movement counts. I march as an ally to and in solidarity with the collective force fighting for our freedom and human rights. I march because I don’t have a choice—because our planet is burning, war is imminent and women are still being silenced for fighting for our rights.
I march because I must. Why do you?