The second annual Women’s March took place on Jan. 20, 2018 worldwide. According to the Washington Post, last year’s march turned out over 4 million people across the United States, making it the most attended protest in U.S. history. Although attendance for 2018 went down an estimated 1.6 million to 2.5 million, the significance of the march in an election year is still worth noting. The theme of last year’s march was Hear our Voices, and the theme of 2018’s march was Hear our Votes.
The purpose of this year’s march was to urge people to increase their voter participation through new voter registrations, and to encourage women to run for office. It has been suggested that 2018 is the “Year of the Woman pt 2,” in reference to the 1992 elections, where the number of women in the Senate went from two to five. There was a surge in fundraising and advocacy for female candidates following Clarence Thomas’ confirmation into the Supreme Court, despite allegations of sexual assault against him. A comparison can be drawn from 1992 and 2018, after the impacts of the #MeToo movement. #MeToo revealed the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment at every level of society. Women took to the streets at the march to show their frustration at the status quo, and an influx in political will to make change.
The march was also used as a platform to bring attention to some of the legislation Congress is trying to pass that would restrict women’s rights. Examples include the 20-week abortion ban, which would deny women access to an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of the women’s health or whether the fetus was conceived out of rape or incest. The accessibility and affordability of contraception would also be affected, as the Trump Administration is no longer making it a federal requirement for employers to include birth control in their health insurance plans. These issues affect the College community too, and students on campus have decided to take action. Second-year Danni Worthy-Mays attended the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches to further her goal of becoming more politically active. “It was nice to be around that many like-minded people,” said Worthy-Mays. “I wish more marches were more proactive than retroactive, so I was really excited to go to this one.”
Marches occurred across the United States, with some of the largest crowds in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. According to Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, an estimated 600,000 showed up to march. Rallies before the March included speeches and performances from indigenous and LGBTQIA+ women in an attempt to make the feminist movement more intersectional, representing different ethnicities and gender identities. The March was concluded with speeches from celebrities such as Viola Davis, Scarlett Johansson, and Halsey.
With the Women’s March over, there are still many steps that should be taken to remain active in seeking changes brought forward by the movement. With much of the attention focused on making changes at the legislative level, it is first important to make sure you are registered to vote. Next, it is important to make educated decisions on who to elect into Senate by researching candidates beforehand. At the campus level, joining clubs like the Feminist Coalition could help in meeting with like-minded people who are working to achieve similar goals as ones set out in the Women’s March and #MeToo movement. The Feminist Coalition meets every other Monday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. with their third annual pin sale this Thursday. All pin proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.