On Saturday millions of women around the U.S. and around the world marched in the name of...well "women" or "womankind," in what was numbers-wise the greatest protest in U.S. history and certainly one with the greatest global echoes (60 countries-wide). The numbers however should not shock us; we are half of the world's population. If we feel like a minority it is only because in several places we happen to be one as a result of history, poor access, and inequality. What changed with the women's march is that although we had always been numerous until today we did not stand united.
My favorite sign at the protest was held by an elderly woman who must have been in her seventies who protested "I still can't believe I have to protest this f--g sh--t." Exactly right. We believed that era was over. Now we are outraged that we have to go out onto the streets and fight for the same sh--t as our great grandmothers. While we were busy climbing new summits, Trump reminded us that even all that which we have already acquired can be taken away from us.
So what exactly is this "sh--t?" Well according to its website the women's march stands for solidarity, rights, safety, health and families, and of course diversity. As I retweeted all day I observed that each woman had appropriated herself of the march, marching from everything from civil rights, to fighting stereotypes or misogyny, to the fact that women only receive 7% of venture capital, to the right to abortion and access to planned parenthood services or simply healthcare, to ending violence against women, to purely political messages. While everyone's #WhyImarch was different, the common denominator was that it had to do with being a woman and as such not feeling rightly represented in today's society.
In one sentence this "sh--t" is everything a woman stands for, and that was precisely what was so rare and defining about what happened.
Saturday the world changed. For so long our mistake has been separating what we as women stand for and fighting for our causes as isolated battles, when really they are one. And that battle reduces itself to the fact that in truth the world is still not equal.
The other day I read a post that said that Trump was closing down 25 grant programs for violence against women. Even I (who have been supporting women long before the march) wanted to immediately angrily repost on Facebook that "yesterday we were fighting for our equality and now we are back to fighting for our basic rights." Then I stopped to remind myself that they were the same thing, that we were all fighting one single battle.
I've never gotten an abortion (926,000 women per year in the U.S. do), and I've never suffered from violence (even if 1/3 of women around the world have), and I can't say that I've truly felt the effects of discrimination or inequality on my own skin (even though women around the world feel it every day). Yet I feel an unexplainable solidarity with the women who have because they are women just like me and because we have to think about our rights everyday, not only the day we want to exercise them and can't. And if as a society we can't assure the rights of half the population we can forget about all the rest (glass ceilings, VC funding etc). This is about all of us women together, regardless of what we do, or where we come from or what we are or have. Because inequality is the single root of all the violence and discrimination we face.
That is why have been marching in my own corner to improve things in my own small patch of the world, by supporting women entrepreneurs, by improving the life of survivors of violence, by raising awareness that we are all in this together, and that the battle any woman wins, is our victory as a society.
If the woman's march has done something I hope it has awakened us to the fact that we have to stand united. That we are one.
It has also reminded me that I as an individual and as a woman have a role to play in actively promoting women's rights and fighting against gender inequality, and that each one of us (man or woman) does. Think about how much stronger we already are today. Think about how much stronger we would all be if we transformed our protesting into action, if we each committed to helping advance things for women in our own little corner of the world--the overall effect would be massive. Each and every one of us has that power and it is our responsibility to make something of it. Making a difference is about standing for principles, but it also about acting. And if we continue to stand for ourselves and for all women, decision makers will have to listen to us. If political circumstances have disempowered us, their aftermath has empowered us.
So I invite everyone to keep marching so that one day our battle will be truly forgotten and obsolete, so that one day we (or at least our great grand-daughters) will no longer need to "fight for this sh--t." It's time to get up, and as one sign said,"fight like a girl."