By Karen Kortsch, USA
On January 20, I participated in the Women’s March Chicago March to the Polls event, on the anniversary weekend of the historic 2017 Women’s March. This year, the number of participants surpassed that of last year: 300,000 people, young and old, from all walks of life, marched to stand up for equality and justice for all – and channel the energy created into political action. It was so heartening and inspiring to know that the movement is strong, and the momentum is still there!
Prior to the March, there was a rally that included many local activists of diverse backgrounds. The emcee was Fawzia Mirza, a Chicago based actress and activist of Pakistani-Canadian heritage. We heard from several local women serving as elected officials about how they are working to improve women’s lives and how important it is for women to go to the polls to cast their vote in the U.S. midterm elections. They also addressed the issue of sexual harassment in their lives and the lives of their constituents. Several voiced hope that the #MeToo movement will decrease the number of incidents of sexual harassment in women’s daily lives, both at work and outside the workplace.
An immigrant rights advocate pointed out that the United States is a country of immigrants and that immigrants – especially vulnerable women and children – need our support now more than ever. We were reminded of all the valuable contributions immigrants have made and continue to make to the well-being of our country.
We heard from a hearing-impaired and disability rights activist, who emphasized that women living with disabilities are a part of our movement and community. Because many disabilities are invisible to others, they may be overlooked and/or misunderstood. Listening to so many diverse points of view in one place was amazing and refreshing.
We then marched across downtown Chicago. We marched with tall women, short women, young women, old women, LGBTQ women, and straight women, women of many religious and ethnic backgrounds. Some wore the pink hats that became famous at last year’s march; others chose not to as they felt the movement had outgrown that symbol.
We may each have a somewhat different perspective on what this movement means to us, but we all stood and marched together. And we are still marching, firm in our commitment for positive change.