2018 Women’s March–Reflecting on Challenges and Victories

This past weekend, thousands of feminist activists once again took the streets of cities and towns across the country for the Women’s Marches to protest a number of the policies and positions of the Trump administration and Republican controlled Congress including the dismantling of Title IX, the rollback of birth control coverage, the failure to protect Dreamers, and more.

Protesters were calling on political leaders to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, protect the healthcare of millions of people, defend access to abortion and birth control, save the EPA and combat climate change, and guard civil rights protections for people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

The theme of this year’s march was Power to the Polls, an effort to get people engaged and ready to turn out to vote in the 2018 elections. That message registered with many women after last year’s march as well.

“The Women’s Marches one year ago led to the largest number of new candidates, especially women, running for political office, as well as the unprecedented victories for feminists in the 2017 state and local elections,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority and speaker at the Women’s March on Washington. “Today, a record number of women are running for Congress, state legislatures, and state-wide offices, and we intend to win. We are going to send a pink wave through Congress and the states in 2018.”

Emily’s List says that in the ten months before the 2016 elections, about 1,000 women had contacted the organization interested in running for office. Since Trump’s election, that number has jumped to over 26,000. From county school boards to Capitol Hill, women are running in unprecedented numbers. 291 Democratic women are running for seats in the House of Representatives and 25 Democratic women are running for the Senate, twice as many women as were running two years ago. And many of these women are running against Republican incumbents.

And they aren’t just running; they’re winning. In Virginia, Democrats picked up 15 seats in the House of Delegates, unseating the Republican super-majority; 11 of those victories went to feminist women, many running for the first time against incumbents. A wave of similar victories was seen across the country in city council races, mayoral races, and more.

And feminists aren’t just seeing electoral victories. In March, Nevada became the 36th state, and the first state since 1982, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

In 2017, Republicans tried at least four times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and decimate Medicaid, and each time the people stopped them.

Oregon passed a law to guarantee no-cost birth control, abortions, STI testing and more to every resident of the state, including undocumented immigrants, gender non-conforming people, and transgender individuals. And Illinois became the first state in over twenty years to voluntarily pass a law permitting funding for abortions under the state Medicaid program, as well as under the state insurance programs for state employees.

Attorneys General in 22 states have taken up the fight to defend civil rights, suing the Trump administration over everything from withholding health insurance subsidies, to rolling back environmental protections, to rescinding DACA, to the Muslim ban.

Feminist champions in Congress have continued to introduce legislation on everything from codifying Title IX guidance, to stopping Trump’s Global Gag Rule, to enforcing women’s constitutional right to access abortion.

And of course the #MeToo movement took over in 2017, empowering countless survivors to share their stories, many for the first time, because they feel they will now be believed, embraced and supported.

The day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, 5.6 million people took to the streets. People marched in at least 999 marches, in all 50 states, in 92 countries, and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. “Last year, the naysayers tried to dismiss the marches as a one-time event,” said Smeal. “But they know now what we knew then: that we will not go away and are determined to change the direction of this nation.”


Media Resources: New York Times 12/4/17; Time 1/18/18; Vox 11/8/17

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