Women’s March: A Stand for Human Rights

Gender has always been politicized in our country. In this past election, this became even more apparent as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to become a major party’s nominee for president. The metaphorical glass ceiling was very close to being broken the night of the election, but as Donald Trump won the electoral college it was apparent that women still have a long way to go for equal representation. Donald Trump’s gender and race are not themselves problems, but the extreme lack of representation of women and minorities in politics is concerning. When the incoming president has bragged about sexual assault, said that women should be punished for having abortions, and built a team planning to cut funding for facilities that provide affordable healthcare for women, it becomes clear that a lack of representation is leading to harmful consequences.

A quickly growing group of people, stemming from a grassroots Facebook event, organized a Women’s March on Washington for January 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. According to their website, their message is that, “Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. We practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other.” Marchers are aiming to create a nonviolent community that wishes to come together, fight injustice and move forward in the face of national concern and fear. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up to march with them, among them a staggering amount of celebrities including Katy Perry, Amy Schumer, Olivia Wilde, and the famous feminist Gloria Steinem. When the day was through, almost half a million people showed up for the march in Washington D.C. and an estimated 2.9 million in total showed up for solidarity marches in major cities around the globe. While the exact number of attendees of Trump’s inauguration are not confirmed, photos seemed to show the Women’s March filling the capital almost twice as much as the previous day. This monumental congregation is now being called one of the biggest protests in U.S. history.

What I admire most about this march is that it is not necessarily an anti-Trump protest, as many would believe, but in fact a unification of people who wish to support human rights. Donald Trump is not the first politician to do a lackluster job of representing women. Women make up half of the world’s population, and are integral to economics, family, military, and politics; however, to this day, women have had disproportional access to leadership in this country. Currently, out of the 535 seats in Congress, women only have 104 seats. That is less than twenty percent. Political control has always been held by a majority of men and has historically done an underwhelming job of addressing the wellbeing of women in society. Access to safe abortions is still being debated, the wage gap is still prevalent, and sexual assault and objectification of women seem to be an everlasting crisis in our country.

Donald Trump has sparked outrage over these issues himself whether he meant to or not, and as yet another man is becoming the leader of our country there is still all the reason in the world to continue protesting for equal representation of women’s rights. The effect this movement may not sway the administration on their beliefs on abortion and objectification of women, but it will send a message that half of the population is facing these issues. If anything, it puts increasing pressure on our politicians to face these uncomfortable truths about our society. There are many responsibilities that the incoming president must take on, and the safety and well-being of women is prominent among them.

In the bigger picture, this movement is speaking out for the rights of everyone to be heard. The Women’s March on Washington aimed to unite the differences of our population and call out for understanding instead of the divisiveness we have experienced during the election. To me, it is a step towards the unification of genders, religion, orientation, and beliefs in our country that have increasingly been tense. It is starting a political narrative in which the stark inequalities women face are publicly addressed, and our leaders are being called upon to notice. It is the latest chapter in an unyielding fight for women to reach equality, and in a larger sense creating harmony for the entire country. As the movement itself states, “There can be no true peace without justice and equality for all.”

Claire Harvey is a second-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at cpharvey@uci.edu.