NEW YORK, Jan 20 (APP):Women across the United States came out in force on Saturday to take part in Women’s March demonstrations for the third year in a row.
Originally spurred by the election of President Donald Trump, the Women’s March has become an annual event involving tens of thousands of women showing up to demonstrate over a range of issues, including calling for racial equality, women’s rights, health care access and protections for the environment.
Women’s March, a national nonprofit organization that evolved from the initial Washington march, again hosted its main event in Washington, with hundreds of “sister” marches in other cities. March On, a separate grassroots coalition that also grew from the original march in 2017, coordinated hundreds of marches in several cities.
In New York City, which hosted three disparate marches, newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a unifying message.
“It is so incredibly important to uplift all of our voices. And to make sure the least among us advocated the most. That means we will not be quiet when it comes to the rights of black women. That means we will not be quiet when it comes to the rights of trans women. That means we will not be quiet when it comes to the rights of poor women. And middle-class women. And working-class women. And all women in the United States and in the world,” she said.
“Last year we brought the power to the polls, and this year we need to make sure we translate that power into policy,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez added. “That means we will not let anyone take our rights away. In fact, we will expand them.
Leaders of both groups appeared to be using this year’s marches to push policy related to raising the minimum wage, access to reproductive healthcare and voting rights, among other issues. They were aiming to mobilize women to vote ahead of the 2020 elections, when Trump is expected to be the Republican nominee for president.
“There is definitely huge, huge focus on the 2020 elections,” said March On’s Natalie Sanchez, an organizer of the 2017 Boston Women’s March who is also with March Forward Massachusetts, which organized Saturday’s march there.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who launched her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination this week, addressed the women’s march in Des Moines, Iowa, the state that holds the first nominating contest and acts as a proving ground for White House hopefuls. She told the crowd that the 2017 march was one of the most influential political moments in her life.
“Now is the time to get off the sidelines. Our democracy only works when people like you stand up and demands it,” Ms. Gillibrand said.
The newly elected women – nearly all Democrats – include the first Muslim women and first Native American women in Congress, as well as the first black women to represent their states in New England. Many cited Trump’s presidency among the reasons they decided to run for office.
As the political movement that grew out of hundreds of loosely affiliated marches in 2017 has grown, divisions have emerged.
In some cities, like New York and Washington, there was more than one march or demonstration due to criticism that some Women’s March leaders are anti-Semitic – a charge those leaders have sought to dispel in recent interviews and statements.
The marches also have been criticized as being unwelcoming to conservative women, who may support Trump’s presidency and oppose abortion rights. The annual March for Life by anti-abortion campaigners was held in Washington on Friday, attended by Vice President Mike Pence.