Millions of women, men, and children from Australia to Antarctica hit the streets on January 21st, expressing a unity of purpose and support for women around the world.
In the US, over 3.3 million women marched in more than 500 cities in all fifty states. Social media was flooded with aerial photos of massive pink crowds and close-ups of protesters carrying signs emblazoned “Girls just wanna have fun-damental rights” and “A woman’s place is in the House AND the Senate.”
Many Delawareans traveled by bus, car, and train to march in Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
While all of the marches centered around women’s rights, the reasons women participated were as individual and unique as the women themselves. Some considered themselves single-issue marchers and others cited broad principles like equity, inclusivity, and kindness as motivation.
Wilmington resident Marcy Kempner shared, “I marched because I wanted to be a part of showing the world that women are not going to sit quietly and let their hard-fought rights be taken away. I marched to show my support for the rights of people with disabilities, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, people of all faiths – all those on the margins who have been under attack during this political season. Mostly, I wanted to feel the energy of all those women, working together, making our voices heard.”
Debbie Osborn, who spent weeks coordinating the trek to Washington with her daughter Delaney, said she and her friends felt like they succeeded in having their voices heard. “This is only the beginning. We have much more to do!! Let’s keep marching for equality, justice and wellness for for all humans around the globe!”
Delaware women started working together in the weeks leading up to the march by knitting the ubiquitous pink hats inspired by the Pussy Hat Project. Some, like Osborn, even learned to knit just for the occasion. To continue the activism of the march, Osborn is still knitting the hats and offering them to friends in exchange for a donation to Planned Parenthood.
Similarly, while CNN questioned whether the marches would prove to be a “cathartic moment or enduring movement?,” all the women interviewed shared powerful resolutions and after-the-fact efforts.
In the days since marching in DC with friends from Delaware, Beth Singewald has committed to volunteering her time to support efforts involving women’s issues.
Kennett Square resident Karen Gowen attended the march with friends from William Smith College. Since returning from Washington, Karen has sent letters to representatives, made donations to different organizations, and plans to participate in the Women’s March’s 10 Actions for the First 100 Days initiative.
Kempner made a similar pledge, stating, “I will be staying vigilant working on the causes that are important to me – mainly disability advocacy – and I will redouble my efforts to support women’s reproductive rights and equality. I will be calling my elected representatives, calling other lawmakers, and staying connected.” Because of the wonderful experience marching with her mom for the rights of women and minorities, Delaware educator Skye Rashkind reflected, “I will definitely be standing up to march again soon!”
While only time will tell the full impact of the marches, the spirit and intensity surrounding the global events are indisputable. Singewald described being “surrounded by kindness and a positive energy. The whole day was amazing in that it was enormous with an incredible number of people of all ages and genders marching together in peace.” Debbie Osborn agreed, sharing, “being surrounded by so many caring people of all walks of life gave me hope, joy, and a feeling of empowerment and strength. I know if we all stand together we will succeed.”
In the weeks following the March, action groups with a focus on next steps emerged on Facebook. Some women have begun to gather for monthly meetings to share information and write letters to lawmakers.
Additionally, other initiatives such as the “Embracelets Project” have been founded to raise money and awareness for current issues. The artists behind “Embracelets” are high school students who participated in the Women’s March on Washington.
The students – Maya, Sophie, Emma, Emi, and Iris – make beautiful, handmade jewelry and sell it online, with all proceeds donated to the ACLU. To purchase the bracelets, go to: www.etsy.com/shop/embraceletsproject. By doing so, the teens hope to maintain the energy, purpose, and civic engagement inspired by the Women’s March.