Nearly 12,000 protesters marched from the National Mall to the White House on Saturday for the second annual Women’s March to rally for social justice issues ranging from women’s rights and sexual assault prevention to immigration reform and racial equality.

The Washington, D.C. Women’s March came nearly a year after the Jan. 21, 2017 Women’s March on Washington, which aimed to rally support for women’s rights and protest President Donald Trump’s inauguration.  The 2018 march centered on the upcoming midterm elections and proactive resistance to the Trump administration through the slogan “Power to the Polls.”

While this year’s march saw a decrease in attendees from last year’s 725,000 protesters,  Saturday’s march maintained the energetic and determined spirit of the global women’s movement. Each speaker’s call to action drew raucous cheers from the crowd.

AMBER GILLETTE/THE HOYA Organized under the theme “Power to the Polls,” the 2018 Women’s March aimed to inspire women to run for elected office and vote.

This year’s march and rally focused on how people can contribute to the effort to bolster rights for women and minorities. Beginning at 11 a.m., speakers, including members of Congress, called on citizens to vote in the upcoming midterm elections and for women to run for office.

Last year’s march was one of 673 simultaneous worldwide movements to protest Trump’s election to office. Over 4 million people gathered to demonstrate in sister demonstrations in all 50 states and countries around the globe, prompted by a Facebook post by a woman in Hawaii after the November 2016 election.

This year, people took to the streets once again to advocate for equality and civil rights. These marches echoed the message of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements to raise awareness about and eradicate sexual assault. Protesters also marched in support of the rights of transgender people, the protection of people with disabilities and the protection of “Dreamers,” immigrants without documentation who were brought to the United States as children.

“I think we’ve moved from doing the important culture change work to now starting to think about institutional change and passing policies,” National Organizing Director at Planned Parenthood Kelley Robinson said to the crowd in D.C. on Saturday.

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also emphasized the importance of women voting and running in elections.

“Nothing is more wholesome to a government, to a country, to a society than the increased participation of women in the leadership and in the rank and file. We need women’s participation,” Pelosi said.

Georgetown University students joined the pink-clad crowds Saturday to march on the White House. Madeleine Gibbons-Shapiro (COL ’21) said that she joined the march to support the collaboration between women and minorities to fight for their civil rights.

Gibbons-Shapiro said that she would like to see a continued effort to support marginalized people on Georgetown’s campus.

“One thing we’ve seen happen this year that’s a really good step in the right direction is the [Living Learning Community] that’s dedicated to gender and sexuality,” Gibbons-Shapiro said. “A continued support of ‘Dreamers’ and people who are traditionally discriminated against, especially in our predominantly white institution — it’s important for Georgetown to support all these different people.”

The Washington, D.C. march was one of many marches held in cities throughout the country. The official Women’s March, organized by the national Women’s March organization, was held in Las Vegas this year. Organized under the theme “Power to the Polls,” the 2018 Women’s March aimed to inspire women to run for elected office and vote. The theme is the focal point for a yearlong campaign to “channel the energy and activism of the Women’s March into tangible strategies and concrete wins in 2018,” according to the Women’s March website.

The 2018 midterm elections will determine which party holds a majority in the Senate and the House. In other words, it will decide the balance of power for the rest of Trump’s term. With the legislative and executive branches currently controlled by the Republican party, Democrats are determined to win seats in the legislature—at least 24 seats in the House and two seats in the Senate to gain a majority of the votes in Congress. All House seats are up for election, and Democrats will be targeting 91 of the seats currently held by Republicans while Republicans will be targeting 36 Democratic seats in the House, according to NBC News.

Arizona and Nevada will be hotly contested states in the midterm elections because they are traditionally red states that may vote blue this election. For this reason, the Women’s March held its primary demonstration in Las Vegas, encouraging Democratic voters there to take to the polls. The Women’s March sought to rally Democrats and independents and encourage them to vote in order to grow Democratic power and strengthen the opposition to Republicans’ and the Trump administration’s policies by electing more Democrats into office this year.

“Women’s March has created a powerful movement that has ignited thousands of activists and new leaders,” Tamika Mallory, co-president of the Women’s March, said in a statement on the “Power to the Polls” website. “In 2018, we must turn our work into action ahead of the midterms. This new initiative will address voter registration and voter suppression head on. We marched for justice in D.C., we created our plan in Detroit and now we’re bringing the power of the polls to Nevada.”

According to The New York Times, some activists felt that the Women’s March this year was too focused on electing Democrats and neglected to address the need to include more marginalized groups. Fox News opinion writer Jen Kerns questioned the Women’s March’s ability to effect serious change and said that it has functioned as an outlet for anger more than as a political movement.

“After much public dialogue over the last year, the questions must now be asked: What exactly has the Women’s March accomplished and are the protesters capable of turning their angst into action? Will Saturday’s protests accomplish anything more, or just serve as a self-affirming feel-good moment for President Trump’s opponents?” Kerns wrote Sunday.

The marches on Saturday came hours after the government shutdown Friday night. Republicans and Democrats failed to compromise on military spending, the wall on the border with Mexico and protection for immigrants without documentation allowed in the country through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Women’s March rallied support for immigrants without documentation in response to the shutdown.

Trump said that the marches were about a celebration of “historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months” and the “lowest female unemployment in 18 years” in a tweet Saturday.

 

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