After the march, action

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By Lily Abromeit

 lily-abromeit@uiowa.edu

Just two days after millions of people gathered in cities across the country and the world, following the lead of the Women’s March on Washington, one thing is already clear — people have a lot more to say.

“Now, I can’t wait for the next 20-hour bus ride to the next awesome event,” said Lottie Gidal, a sophomore at City High, who rode to D.C. on a bus full of eastern Iowa women.

Many are trying to capitalize on what they say is momentum post-election.

“Especially in America, [Jan. 21] kind of restored the faith in democracy to say we can still use our rights to stand for what we believe in even if the leadership does not completely align with our morals as Americans,” said University of Iowa junior Lindsey Rayner, who was in D.C. for the march.

Rayner expressed feelings of hope that she said could potentially lead to something bigger.

For her, the march, which had an unofficial estimate of more than 1 million people in attendance in D.C. alone, spread the message that people will still fight for what they want to see, even when they don’t feel heard.

“[I hope] for more organization and engagement to happen,” Rayner said. “I think it would be definitely a waste of effort if we just got together on one day, made a statement on one day, and then went back to complacency.”

The day after the march, the official Women’s March on Washington national organization announced a new campaign “10 actions for the first 100 days.”

The campaign announcement goes on to detail a particular issue that will be tackled with a specific action every 10 days. The first action is printing out a special Women’s March postcard and writing to respective senators about issues that matter most.

A woman looks on wearing her pink “pussy hat” during the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of women wore knitted hats with cat ears during the march. (The Daily Iowan/Lily Abromeit)

Oliver Hidalgo-Wohlleben, who graduated from the UI in May 2016 and helped with organizing the national campaign, said the campaign is meant to introduce practical steps people can take.

There will also be training programs introduced in order to teach women how to run for political office.

“People are upset about the election result, and a lot of people felt hopeless about where the direction of politics are going in this country,” he said. “But to have a march that had three times the number of people the inauguration did, I think it showed that politics is not a spectator sport.”

This is the idea that made Lauren Freeman, the UI Student Government vice president, interested in attending the D.C. march in the first place.

“Now, more than ever, we need people engaged in the political process,” she said in an email. “Because I want more of us to feel empowered to raise our voices and get engaged in communities across the U.S. We cannot make change without our collective voice.”

Rayner says she hopes part of that collective voice reaches to the new administration.

“I think that it was good to see him at least responding to it happening,” Rayner said about one of President Trump’s posts on his Twitter account Sunday.

Trump tweeted twice about the march. The first read, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Later in the day he tweeted, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

“I’d like to see him acknowledge the things we were marching for,” Rayner said, adding that she wants him to react to the causes they are fighting for, not the sheer number that was there.

According to the Women’s March on Washington official website, the unity principles include ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice.

Hidalgo-Wohlleben said he expects the marches to open physical and psychological doors for people who are upset with the state of things in the U.S.

“The intangible take away is removing that psychological block that you can’t do something,” he said. “[But] that you can effect change in this country, that each person can.”