All over the world, women (and men!) took over the streets of their cities to join in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
21 January 2017
It was a day when history was made. My social media and news feeds were flooded with articles, pictures, videos and comments about the women’s marches around the world. It’s impressive the reach that these marches had – literally on every continent – and I truly believe this fact cannot be belittled or ignored. The marches brought together people from different age groups and backgrounds, although the fact remains that some indigenous, women of color and other minorities felt left out and divided from the white majority that attended the marches. Important issues of the intersection between gender, race, class and religion were brought up during the marches, which amplifies their significance and relevance.
However, for the goals of the marches to become reality and for women’s rights to be truly respected and enjoyed, action needs to happen now that the marches are over. The message and the desire to fight for women’s rights must go beyond the streets and into our daily lives and routines for history to be made.
I didn’t attend a march, which gave me a unique opportunity to observe the marches from an outside perspective and to think about ways I can stand up and fight for women’s rights every day of my life, right here where I live.
In the aftermath of these marches the tendency is for the euphoria and excitement to wind down as our “real lives” kick in: as we get back to our routines of cleaning up after children, going to work, studying, having to deal with men catcalling us as we walk through the very same streets we marched on before. And although this is OK, I truly believe it must not mean that we became complacent again. We must not forget the cause of the marches, and most importantly we must not, ever, think that we cannot fight for women’s rights unless we are doing something big like marching, volunteering abroad or donating thousands of dollars.
We stand up for women’s rights when we take care of our children. When we encourage our daughters, sisters, nieces or granddaughters to keep playing soccer or getting a degree in science – even if they’re the only woman in the class. When we don’t judge or criticize other women for the choices they make about their lives and bodies – to be single, married, have children, or not have them.
These are the moments when the marches became reality. Yes, we must hold our governments accountable for respecting human and women’s rights. But we must set our own example as well. The quote “be the change you wish to see in the world” is a cliché, but I believe it is so because it’s true.
Donate some money, whatever amount you can afford, to an organization that supports women’s rights. Join a women’s rights organization in some capacity. Look for opportunities to mentor and encourage younger women at your work. Be kind towards other women. Do not judge and respect the choices they make regarding their career, relationships, etc. Speak up against sexist comments and attitudes in your daily life – an offensive joke or comment made by a co-worker or relative (my father has heard me many times say, “That’s sexist, Dad!”). These are just a few examples of small ways with big impacts that we can all stand up for women’s rights in our daily lives.
The marches have ended. What happens now? This next chapter is up to each one of us to write for women’s rights.
Featured image: CNN