The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 21 made headlines across the country and around the world. Women and men across political, ethnic, social, and age divides gathered in a central location in an attempt to have their voices heard by those in power.
The reasons for attending were as varied as the marchers themselves.
Some women marched to show support for Planned Parenthood. Some marched to show support to the LGBT community. Some marched to express their concern for the education system.
Lisa Bunn of Muscatine traveled to Washington, D.C. on a bus with five friends. The group boarded a bus in Davenport that traveled through the night, arriving in the nation’s capital on Saturday morning.
“I felt like I had no choice but to march. It was an innate feeling that I had to be involved,” Bunn explains.
Other Muscatine women who were not able to make the trip to Washington, D.C. spent the day in Iowa City and Des Moines.
The Iowa City rally gathered and observed a moment of silence outside of the University of Iowa Main Library. Organizers of the Iowa City demonstration estimate that 1500-2000 marchers gathered for the event.
Muscatine Community School District teacher Lyndsay Welch, who participated in Iowa City, says, “I marched because I am concerned about the future of our country. I feel like that the decisions our current leadership is making are setting us back instead of moving us forward. I am an educator, and there have been nights where I have lost sleep worrying about the well-being of my students. I want a president who worries just as much about ALL of the people in this country.”
While Welch is concerned with education, for Muscatine resident Crystal McFate, her reasons run even deeper. McFate tells of the racism and treatment that her mother and grandmother received as Hispanic women, though both were born in America.
McFate, who participated in the Iowa City march, says the reason to march goes beyond history and carries to the future. “I marched for my kids, for the world that they are growing up in. Cultural diversity is vital to our way of life.” McFate goes on to explain, “The more exposure to different cultures, the better off our kids will be. It helps them see the world around them with new eyes.”
Somewhere in size between Iowa City and Washington, D.C., the Women’s March in Des Moines announced in the days before an anticipated crowd of 10,000, though final counts put the numbers over 26,000 men, women, and children.
MCC English Professor Lisa Powell was among those who travelled to Des Moines from Muscatine. Powell explains, “I initially went to provide a voice for women, for those who feel they are not heard. I also felt the need to support women in health care.” Powell goes on to say, “It’s about changing the lexicon, and creating a lexicon that is not negative towards women.”
Each of the women participating in the march described the march as a positive experience. “This was easily one of the most positive experiences I have had,” Powell says. “One of the most powerful as well, so many different political opinions in one place, all talking about understanding where the other is coming from.”
Bunn echoes that sentiment. “The whole thing was really energizing, full of hope, solidarity. There were so many different kinds of people, not just women, but men and families as well.”
Each of the women involved expressed the desire to become more involved in the political process at varying levels, including contacting local representatives to make their opinions known.
Total estimates range from 3.5 to 5 million participants in demonstrations worldwide.