Single-digit temperatures couldn’t prevent nearly 1,000 women and allies from crowding the state capital last Saturday, Jan. 19 in support of the Women’s March on Montpelier. In part inspired by the 2018 midterms, which brought throngs of women to Congress, Women’s March Vermont organized the Women’s Rally in Montpelier along with sister marches and rallies in cities throughout the world.
The rally in Montpelier was one of many that took place across the nation on Saturday to commemorate the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. In 2017, on the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency, thousands protested in the U.S capital against the Trump administration and its threat to reproductive, civil and human rights. According to estimates by the Washington Post, 4.1 million people took part in various marches across the U.S., and thousands marched throughout the world in a show of global support for the resistance movement. President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton outraged many who objected to his offensive treatment of and statements about women, and prompted the idea of the Women’s March on Facebook the day after the election.
The protestors in various Women’s March events voiced support not only for women’s and reproductive rights, but also criminal justice, environmental issues, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and gay and transgender people — all groups threatened under the Trump administration. Organizers of the Women’s March view the protests as part of a larger resistance movement, in which various organizations and companies can play a role in facilitating the civic participation of women.
On the Women’s March Vermont website, they describe their mission to “harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points … through trainings, outreach programs and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance.”
Women’s March Vermont organizer Kristen Vrancken further stated, “We’ve been organizing locally to advocate for the policies that matter to us, and those that impact women’s lives, and we’re flooding the streets in solidarity with our sisters in D.C. to remind the country that Vermont resists — and this time, we’re coming with an agenda.”
The March featured a series of female speakers ranging from women’s rights to environmental activists. They also announced the Women’s Agenda, which includes progressive federal policy demands in addition to local progressive legislative initiatives for attendees to support. The March was sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s as well as the Vermont Women’s Fund and ACLU Vermont.
Women’s March Vermont describes marching as a means of: protecting women’s bodies, affirming women’s diversity, valuing women’s work, respecting women’s contributions and unifying women’s allies. Aside from fighting for specific rights and facets of society, the protestors sought to project an overall theme of anti-oppression and unity leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Within the March, various organizations advocated for their causes, including Planned Parenthood, which urged attendees to come to a Jan. 22 action at the Statehouse to secure abortion rights in Vermont, reported the Burlington Free Press. In addition, many representatives from groups such as Members of Migrant Justice, Black Lives Matter and University of Vermont Socialists were present. Students at the college expressed support for the Montpelier Women’s March in addition to the global movement as a whole.
“I think there’s something really powerful in the idea that this is not just one protest and one city, but a truly global movement of unified, powerful women standing up for rights and groups that should and must be defended,” said Mariel Edokwe ’20.