It’s the 8th of Jan 2020 and there’s a distinct feeling that movement organisers are collectively tired. The past three years have been intense on so many levels. Throughout it all, we have stayed true to the purpose of grassroots organising and have continued to show up, speak out, unite, and put our bodies on the line for our collective liberation. The cost has been our mental and emotional fatigue, physical exhaustion, burn out……..
Why are we so tired? The fight hasn’t gotten easier. Our rights continue to be challenged, the climate crisis continues to worsen affecting women and girls first and foremost, women’s bodily autonomy continues to be a subject for white men and male leaders to dictate and enforce, white feminism continues to burden grassroots organisers of color (not only do they have to work changing entrenched behaviors and social systems, they have to contend with White feminists who continue to oppress, marginalise, and gaslight WOC organisers), grassroots organisers and communities continue to face many barriers to entry from prerequisite knowledge to exclusionary hierarchical practices, women’s rights issues continue to be underfunded, forced to focus on mobilising resources rather than building our collective power, and governments, corporate interests, and the elite continue to unify to ensure their interests are served over others.
The irony — protests continue to be a catalyst for change both politically and for changing social norms.
When people show up in numbers impossible to ignore, it puts leaders on notice. Last year the Stanford Business review published a piece, “How Protests Can Swing Elections.” By researcher Daniel Gillion’s calculations the “volume and intensity of progressive protests have been higher in 2018 than at any time since the late 1960s.” Protests are “a form of information-gathering,” Gillion says. “When politicians run for office, they try to know every single issue in their backyard as well as the sentiments of their constituents. Protests are a way of signalling discontent, and they inform politicians about the most salient issues.”
We know the impact movements have on moving the needle. When we show up and speak out we can make what seemed impossible — possible. Take, for example, the 119 year old law criminalising abortion in New South Wales, Australia. Last year Women’s March Sydney, in partnership with grassroots organisations, coordinated a series of educational and awareness raising actions in the lead-up to the vote; Because of their commitment and presence having an abortion is no longer a criminal offense.
So, Why Do I March? I march because I know that every single action and every single voice in this movement counts. I March as an ally to and in solidarity with the collective force fighting for our freedom and human rights. I March because I don’t have a choice — our planet is burning, war is imminent, and women are still being silenced for fighting for our rights. I March because I must.
Why Do You March?