By Amal Matan
The Women’s March gets our Justice Warriors superlative in our first-ever #MGTop8. The #MGTop8 highlights fearless changemakers that are making an impact on elevating Muslim women’s voices. To view the rest of our #MGTop8, click here.
The Women’s March is a grassroots global organization and movement seeking to empower female voices and catalyze the efforts made towards a more equitable future. Their mission framework is based on the H.E.R.S model: health, economic security, representation, and safety.
In today’s society, women and femme-identifying individuals are routinely underrepresented. This results in a staggering gendered discrimination in wages, reproductive rights, and access to healthcare, with women of color being disproportionately affected at the intersection of racism and gender bias.
Headed by heavy-hitting femme social activists, representatives, and members of the business community, the Women’s March has garnered the undying support of people from all walks of life, religion, and background. This organization was formed in protest of the 2016 Presidential Election, in particular the chauvinistic remarks and actions of Donald Trump.
On October 7th, 2016, an infamous recording of Trump was released to major TV and media networks, in which Trump is heard crudely describing sexual encounters in ways that could be classified as sexual assault, aligning closely with toxic rape culture. He even went as far as to say that he grabs women “by the pussy,” kisses women without consent and even suggested he was going to non-consensually kiss the woman he and Billy Bush [also in the recording] were about to meet. Gross? Absolutely.
So, on January 21st, 2017, we heard the Women’s March movement roar in contempt across streets around the world. The day after Trump’s inauguration, a president who had already threatened the fragility of American democracy, women and their allies exercised their right to resist by protesting in Washington, D.C., home of the White House.
Approximately 1 million people showed up in America’s capitol alone and a total of 5 million people banded together worldwide to march in support of women internationally. It was the largest single-day American protest in the nation’s recorded history! The 2018 Women’s March would soon follow in numbers and even an in-person convention, drawing in gigantic crowds across the country.
The Women’s March successfully assembled, protested and presented their 10 actions for the first 100 days campaign. This campaign had citizens call, send letters and join in on collective action to pressure senators to protect the public interest.
The Women’s March in 2017 marked the resurgence of focus on feminism in the public eye. Like most movements, it wouldn’t be exempt from opposition, demands for growth, or critique. The most apparent criticisms came from the first march’s divisions, where pink, heteronormative “pussy hats” created a sea of distance from the intersectional premise of resistance. This prompted widespread conversations surrounding the leaders, pallbearers and their stance in the feminist discourse.
So, it would be hard to discuss such a successful movement without also highlighting the problematic aspects of such a widespread demonstration and its implications for people of color, specifically. Co-founder Breanne Butler tells MuslimGirl.com that she has witnessed racial profiling herself, “getting arrested with Linda Sarsour and Faiza Ali and seeing the NYPD try to make them take their hijabs off.” She states, as a co-founder and leader of the movement, that while she is incredibly proud of the progression of such an important movement for the intersectional rights of women, she also understands the frustration from people of color who have been leading this same kind of movement for so long with little credit.
The Women’s March’s goal in executing a platform of intersectionality has been the primary flashpoint, but also a primary source of growth. The organization’s mission is based on the theories of leading critical race scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberle Crenshaw. On their website, they state that their mission is to “ harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.”
For the young women who are on the fence about publicly demonstrating against injustice, Breanne says, “As someone that has lost quite a few family members and friends since my involvement in Women’s March: you absolutely WILL get backlash.”
Breanne recounts the difficulty of seeing her own family members attend the Trump inauguration in D.C., as she led the Women’s March in protest of the new administration. But, she says despite the difficulty of doing the right thing, it’s absolutely essential, especially when we juxtapose our current political turmoil with tragedies in history.
“I remember sitting in history class and thinking ‘I would take a stand against the Nazis,’ or ‘I would help slaves escape,’ but the truth is doing the right thing isn’t always easy or the popular opinion when you’re in the thick of it. If you aren’t taking an active stance now, you wouldn’t have back then.”
Some guiding principles, which can be found here alongside a plethora of other informations and guides, are: Ending Gender-based Violence, Securing Reproductive Rights and Freedoms, LGBTQIA Rights, Worker’s Rights, Civil Rights, Disability Rights, Immigrant Rights, and Environmental Justice.
The Women’s March emerged from the United States, and its national team is headed by co-presidents Tamika D. Mallory and Bob Bland. Co-President Tamika is a civil rights advocate who’s worked closely with former President Barack Obama and served on the NYC Transition Commission. Co-President Bob is the Founder and CEO of a fashion-based social enterprise called Manufacture New York (MNY), which focuses on developing sustainable, transparent supply chains.
The organization’s board includes notable activists Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, Janaye Ingram and Breanne Butler.
Since its inception, the Women’s March has tapped millions into a global conversation centering women.
Of course, like most global movements, the founders of the Women’s March had no idea it would be such a success. In fact, Breanne told us she was stunned.
“I thought it would just be a march in DC. But less than 24 hours after the Facebook Page went viral, I started getting women from Canada, Switzerland, London, Sydney–all reaching out wanting to have marches. The moment we got word that the female scientists in Antarctica were having a march, I knew this had resonated with women across the world.”
This kind of impact is, undoubtedly, hard to ignore. We all saw it from the outside perspective, from all the Women’s March Facebook events planned and circulated around social media — but it must have been so exciting and shocking to be at the helm of what has already become a historic movement.
So, in the spirit of the Women’s March, all its organizers, and the countless generations of activists and civil rights demonstrators that paved the way for our current capacity for resistance: fight for the truth, defend one another’s rights, and proudly stand as justice warriors. Thanks, Women’s March.