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Women's March encourages more to join the conversation

by Hazen Health Center
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 10:00 pm

Becoming a voice of change:

One year after being written into the record books as the largest protest in United States history, the One Million Women March (“The Women’s March”) returned in 2018 to shed light on issues of discrimination in the U.S. and around the globe. 

Protesters gathered across the nation in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York City and Rochester, among other cities, as well as in more than 30 countries around the world. 

This year’s theme, Power to the Polls, raised awareness about voter suppression and announced a primary goal of registering one million voters by midterm elections this November. 

In an interview with USA Today, Paulette Rappa, the executive director of The Way Home, a non-profit organization that helps formerly incarcerated citizens transition back into their communities, stated, “The real power is at the polls … The real march is on Election Day.” 

In coupling with this goal, activists also set out to encourage marginalized voices, such as women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, impoverished communities, immigrants and those who are any combination of these, and more, to run for office. In her address to march-goers in Washington D.C., New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand noted the importance of these voices. 

“To change the system, we need to change the players,” she said. 

It is not always easy to get these players in the running. According to The New York Times, a phenomenon called the “ambition gap” is afflicting many marginalized groups. 

Researchers have attempted to find the source of this phenomenon and suggest, “Women are less likely than men to be encouraged by parents, teachers or party leaders to run — yet they are also less likely to run without being prodded. They underestimate their abilities and assume they need to be much more qualified than men to run for the same office.” 

Many women will not even consider running for office until it is suggested from an outside party, and when they do run, they “Often start out at lower-level positions than first-time male candidates — school board rather than mayor, or state legislature rather than federal office.” 

With the new emphasis and encouragement, a record number of new players are inserting themselves into the conversation. Whether marginalized voices are calling for change from public offices or the streets of cities across the world, movements like The Women’s March offer a stage to unify populations for a common goal, as well as share new perspectives and ideas regarding topics of oppression.

Jenny Muhl, who helped organize the People’s Climate Movement last April, told Rochester City Newspaper, “It’s a morale boost, and it’s a way to get people involved,” she said, “but a rally in and of itself — it’s not changing policy. It’s motivating people. It’s their first step.” 

The next move, many would argue, is stepping up to the plate and using your own voice to advocate for change. The most impactful way to do so is to utilize your constitutional right to vote, and doing so is getting easier by the day. 

Contrary to popular belief, elections occur every year, not every four, at the local, state and national level, and absentee ballots are available for all elections. 

You can check your voter registration status by visiting canivote.org, and if you are not registered, organizers of The Women’s March have even launched a text based registration campaign. 

Taking up record low of two minutes, text P2P to RTVOTE (788-683) to register. The server will prompt you with a few basic questions and before you know it, you’ll be headed to the polls. 

For more ways to get involved in democratic or civic engagement, you can also seek out Brockport’s campus departments and organizations such as the Office of Community Development, Voices for Progressive Change, Citizen B Alliance, Eagle Service Corps, Brockport Student Government (BSG) and more. 



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