With the inauguration just barely over, women around the country turned out to march. From D.C. to Melbourne, from Nairobi to Bogota, over 670 events were held around the world in support of women’s equality. These are undoubtedly important moments. They are a platform to call for gender equity: a visual that shows women are here and ready to stand up for change.
But what will happen now? Now that we dragged our tired feet and sagging posters home, how can we take the incredible energy of the march and move forward? Who will continue to fight for gender equity and how? Who will be included in the conversation and who will be left behind?
Millennials are primed for action. For many, the 2016 election was their first real, personal encounter with sexism. They have grown up under the supportive, pro-women Obama presidency, with role models like Michelle Obama in the Whitehouse and with a Supreme Court that promised to uphold Roe v. Wade. Now – with the shock of Hillary Clinton’s loss freshly stinging – they are newly energized to show up, to stand up, to fight back for the rights they thought were inviolably theirs but which are suddenly, frightening, in jeopardy.
Millennials are giving the women’s movement something we have long needed: certainty. They are sure this is what they deserve and what they will achieve. They are ready to forge ahead unrepentant and unwavering – but is the movement prepared to go with them?
There are so many initiatives that need help, so many ways that women remain vulnerable, from reduced earning potential to the threat of violence on college campuses and in the work place, to unequal access to healthcare and treatment.
We need an agenda – one that we should promote to our elected representatives, to our friends and neighbors, and to the press. We need a unified message that says, “ We will not go back, we will not settle, we will stand together. We will promote women of color, transgender women, gay women, and native women. We will respect women who wear the hijab and women who don’t shave their armpits: women who are fulltime mothers and women who will never have children.”
Most of all, we need resistance strategies that work.
Some great solutions are already springing up and we’ll be posting regularly about what approaches are seeing success, how to get involved, and where we think the fight needs to go. Right now, I’m looking forward to the midterms and finding ways to support Democratic candidates running for seats in swing districts.
We must use the energy from this march to leap forward into a new kind of citizenship and activism as women. Our future is in our hands and now, more than ever, it’s up to every single one of us to stand up – one for all and all for one.