Are women’s marches still relevant?

Charlotte Observer Opinion, January 24, 2020

by Gina Navarrete

The question is not “why are women still upset, why do they continue to protest?” The question is: why are we not ALL marching and protesting the status quo with greater urgency? – Gina Navarrete, Co-President, CWM

Photo courtesy Jon Strayhorn

As we enter the fourth consecutive year of the Women’s March, many are wondering whether to march or not to march. Various publications once again are questioning the need for another march, and they once again have pigeon-holed all marches, local or national, as one group. Some people assumed that because the original March was driven by women’s anger and fear, the movement would quickly fizzle out. It didn’t take long before critics and cynics questioned the motives of the leaders and legitimacy of the movement. Over the past three years we have seen headlines in the media about infighting and controversy with the leadership of the national Women’s March, and dissension from many of their affiliates. Critics will also point to the smaller numbers of people showing up to the marches as the years progress. This has left many skeptics questioning if these protest marches are still needed or whether they are even relevant.

It should be no surprise that we at the Charlotte Women’s Movement hold to the belief that these marches continue to be relevant. Like every other movement, one must evolve or perish. The protest marches — most of which are not affiliated to the national Women’s March (CWM being one of them)— evolved into social movements. It is the work between the marches that leads to significant change.

The marches have been cathartic, motivational, and energizing. Most feel the power of sisterhood. Many women report leaving the marches feeling empowered and ready to do the work, and this work has catapulted an unprecedented number of women into politics. Whether women have run for office or become politically active in other ways, the results are clear; we are changing the face of politics and this is to everyone’s benefit.

No one can advocate for women like women. We know the issues and challenges we face. Women make up more than 50% of the population in this country and we hold nowhere near 50% of the political power. Perhaps this is the reason why the Equal Rights Amendment has still not made its way onto the Constitution. Perhaps this is the reason why our reproductive rights are continuously challenged. And perhaps this is the reason why we cannot agree on sensible gun laws.

So, we say …. sometimes it just takes a woman. Sometimes it takes a woman to work through conflict. Sometimes it takes a woman to look at the big picture; to find the path to sensible gun laws, environmentally sound policies, and yes, caring for those who belong to the many marginalized communities.

This is exactly the movement that has emerged from the marches. Many of us “woke” in 2017 with the first march and have remained “woke.” We are choosing to go into public service – whether thru politics, working with non-profits, or being better advocates for our communities. We have chosen not to go back, and we are raising a generation of young adults that appear to be less focused on profits and more focused on equity and overall quality of life. This is not irrelevant, and this movement will only continue to be fueled by women.

Thus, we would argue that the need for protest marches continues to be relevant. The question is not “why are women still upset, why do they continue to protest?” The question is: why are we not ALL marching and protesting the status quo with greater urgency? Why are we not advocating every day for environmental justice, criminal reform, the right to healthcare, and yes, to save our democracy? If the last three years have taught us anything, it is that our government is not fool proof; democracy can die; diplomacy is important; and elections have consequences.

Marches and protest rallies help women find their voice. Marches and rallies invigorate and energize us so we can continue with the work.

We hope to see everyone on Saturday, Jan 25 at 11 a.m. at Uptown’s First Ward Park, when Charlotte will celebrate its fourth annual Women’s March and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women—Queen City Metropolitan Chapter (NCBW—QCMC) and Charlotte Women’s Movement (CWM) will come together to hold another Women United March.

Navarrete is Co-President of Charlotte Women’s Movement, formerly known as Charlotte Women’s March — a local, organic grassroots organization that focuses on local issues affecting women and gender equality. It is not affiliated with the national Women’s March.

#WomenUnitedMarch, #UseYourPower, #CharlotteWomensMovement

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