Three years ago, the first official international Women’s March was organized across the world on January 21, 2017. Initially, many protestors were marching against statements made by United States President Donald Trump, while also championing for women’s reproductive rights, criminal justice, protection of the environment, and the rights of many groups, including immigrants, Muslims, and people of the LGBT+ community.
According to The Washington Post, an estimated 4.1 million people participated in marches across the U.S. alone, with over 300,000 worldwide.
The Women’s March became an annual occurrence, but with new laws, concerns, and ideals, the protest and protestors have begun to shift their purpose. While many of the participants still march for their initial objectives, like maintaining reproductive rights and aiding LGBT+ communities, each is to their own reasoning.
Student protestors, whether it be towards climate change or gun control have been leading the way with their voices. Below, two high school students were interviewed about their experiences and purpose in being part of the 2020 Women’s March in Sacramento, California.
Emely Mejia is a junior at Cordova High School, she has participated in the Sacramento Women’s March for two years and feels like the protest provides her and many others with a platform to share their voice and ask for change. For her, participating in the Women’s March is a way to express her values and support women of her community. As a Latina, Mejia feels a responsibility to represent and uplift those like her, “It’s very important for me to be aware and be an advocate for it [Latina women’s rights] because if I don’t then no one is going to.”
Being a student, Mejia believes it is important for those of her age to be engaged politically and socially so that issues like the pay gap don’t go overlooked in the future. When asked how students should be more involved with activism she pointed to social media, saying, “I believe people should constantly be using their platform for good – it may not be an absolute solution, but it helps promote what you believe is right.”
Like Mejia, Jordan Kaitapu has taken part in the Sacramento Women’s March for multiple years. Kaitapu is a senior at Cordova High School and has organized school walkouts and attended multiple protests supporting the rights of the black community. As a pro-black activist, Kaitapu participated in the women’s march to “represent a group of people whom I felt were left out and unheard in the movement: black women.” While supporting the rights of black women at events like the Women’s March, Kaitapu is an activist for “everyone under the African diaspora.”
While movements like the Women’s March can easily be merged into one protest, those marching within are each standing for their own values and purposes. Recognizing this, especially among the youth, identifies the issues most important to them as young women.