Women’s marches are taking place around the world this weekend. They follow ones held last year at this time, but have some new focuses. Here's a look at a few taking place in our region.
Women’s March anniversary events are scheduled from Witchita to Woodstock and Honolulu to Hudson. Melissa Auf der Maur is co-founder and director of Basilica Hudson, where a rally and march will culminate. She says last year’s march was a reaction to the presidential election.
“The common denominator of what’s beautiful about the women’s march is it isn’t about politics, it’s about humanity and it’s about coming together and finding common ground. This is the year that we have to come together. We have, we were divided a year ago, hence the very extreme election results, and the march was to come together in a universal way. And I think that there’s been a remarkable amount of action in the past year that shows that people are willing to work harder,” Auf der Maur says. “And, honestly, as a Canadian who’s lived in the U.S. for a few decades, my big concern always has been the lack of activity and action in this country, the complacency and this sort of possible illusion that you live in land of the free, for free! You don’t. You have to be engaged and active in your country and in your process. And I think that that has happened. And I think these marches say that people are more engaged and more active. And I hope that on Saturday there’s a real sense of, here we are, look, we showed up. What can we do now?”
There has been an open call for the Hudson event, with organizers seeking 30 women to lead the march cloaked in red robes inspired by characters in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” now a series on Hulu, in which women are stripped of their rights and forced to become child bearers for wealthy men. Donning red robes and bonnets like the story’s handmaids has become a symbol among today’s women’s rights activists. Maria-Elena Conte is co-organizer of the Woodstock march.
“Last year we came together and wanted to be more of a peaceful gathering where we are, a lot of people were quite frankly shocked, so they needed an avenue or way to vent that but, as a result of last year’s march, a lot of people started to take action,” Conte says. “And I think that the last 12 months, it has actually kind of skyrocketed. People are really starting to get involved, and especially in a grassroots level, people coming together in their local communities. And this is just another chance for people to come together, what can we walk away with from this march. how can we mobilize and form these coalitions.”
She says there were actions taken after last year’s women’s marches. In fact, one of the actions during many women’s marches this year is “Power to the Polls.” Organizers say resistance alone is not enough. Sunday in Las Vegas, a “Women’s March: Power to the Polls” event launches a national voter registration tour. Organizers say this is the next stage of the movement, intended to channel the energy and activism of the Women’s March into tangible strategies and political wins in 2018. Some local marches are incorporating this aspect. Again, Conte.
“People are going to be really motivated to march to the polls,” Conte says. “They’re going to want to really get motivated and make sure everyone’s vote counts.”
Anula Courtis also is co-organizer of the women’s march in Woodstock.
“And local marches matter,” Courtis says. “While many people are going to the cities, so D.C. and to New York City, we think that it’s very important for people to show up at their local marches, so that those politicians, when they’re watching TV, they see the numbers not just at the big cities where they’re expecting those numbers, but outside of there.”
Indivisible groups were formed to resist President Trump’s agenda. There’s Indivisible 19, in New York’s 19th Congressional District, lead organizer of the Hudson march, and a host of other Indivisible groups throughout the Hudson Valley. Basilica Hudson’s Auf der Maur describes this year’s march as being more organized, with more outreach and sponsors.
“So it starts at the top of town at 1, and then we march down in a procession and then enter a sheltered gathering space where they’ll be music, warm food, tabling, information about lots of the different participants and organizers, incredible speakers,” says Auf der Maur.
Organizers of last year’s women’s march on Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie are not putting one together this year, saying time did not permit. Other marches are scheduled across the WAMC listening area, including in Albany, Glens Falls, Montpelier, Northampton, and many other locations.