Today (Jan. 19), thousands of people across the world will participate in the third annual Women’s March. This time, they will be doing so with specific calls to action.
The Women’s March organization has just released its most detailed set of policy proposals, which they call the Women’s Agenda. The document is an attempt to coalesce the participants in the March around policy goals that they believe will sustain their movement. “The raw energy of the people dissipates over time without an ideological frame to continue building power,” the authors of the document write.
The Women’s Agenda details 24 federal policy priorities for which the organization will advocate. They include universal healthcare, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, ending war, the expansion of voting rights, ending the student debt crisis, protecting the rights of trans women, and a move toward renewable energy. The authors of the Women’s Agenda say the policy priorities were developed based on an understanding of “intersectionality.” Intersectionality is the concept that black women, for example, face a unique kind of discrimination compared to white women because they have multiple identities that are discriminated against. This would also be true of gay women compared to straight women. The leaders consider this important because previous feminist movements have focused on the needs of straight, white women.
The list was put together by the Women’s March leaders along with advocates from organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club. It is a progressive agenda that places the Women’s March organization in the more liberal wing of the Democratic party. More details on their proposal can be found in this link (pdf).
Of course, not every marcher will agree with every demand. Some participants in the Women’s March may support the Equal Rights Amendment, for example, but not believe that all student debt should be cancelled by the federal government. Still, the document represents an important step for the organization—moving the March from an amorphous protest against Trump to something more clear-cut. Prospective marchers can now assess the policies of the March’s leaders and decide if this is the appropriate movement for them.
The Women’s March organization released the policy proposal under a shroud of controversy (paywall). Its leaders have been accused of sanctioning bigotry through their association with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. These leaders say they have denounced anti-Semitism, and have reached out to the Jewish community, but for many former participants it has not been enough. Rival marches will be held across the country by those who feel uncomfortable participating in those organized by the Women’s March organization. The Women’s March leaders will hope that a discrete policy platform will bring some of these dissenters back into the fold.