Editor’s note: My thirteen year old daughter, Ella Palter, wrote this for a public speaking contest. The proposition: “Be it resolved that the women’s marches [that occurred after the 2017 US Presidential inauguration] were ineffective and caused further division in US society.” Ella disagreed. Here’s her argument.
By Ella Palter
“Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed. I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love.”
With these words, Sophie Cruz, a six-year-old immigration activist took to the stage at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. A day that would become one of the most unprecedented events to ever be held on American soil and that would inspire millions across the globe – myself, and the 600 young women at my school included.
But what made this movement so effective?
For starters, crowd scientists estimate that a collective of over 6 million people across the globe attended marches in their communities, cities, and countries.
Social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook were booming with new posts and hashtags. Instagram had over 1 million photos tagged to the hashtag ‘women’s march’. CNN, with 263 million multi-platform visitors, was itching to get their hands on the latest controversy. Other outlets like the Huffington Post and the New York Times had similar urges to release high interest news to each of their 80 million plus viewers and web visitors.
But what did all this news and social media coverage really achieve?
With millions watching the marches brought awareness to the issues that continue to plague women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and diversity as a whole, across the globe. Through the extensive power that we all know the media holds, the movement shone a light on domestic violence, sexual assault, racial, religious, and gender discrimination, mental illness, everything that we continue to put on the back burner, no matter how important it becomes to moving forward as an inclusive human race.
Not only did the women’s march bring awareness to social justice obstacles we continue to face today, it brought millions across the globe together to stand up and speak out. The movement united people of all genders, races, and religions in a mass effort to unify the world as a whole, all human beings included. Marches were held in all 7 continents, and 60 different countries including Peru, Kenya, the Czech Republic, Georgia, and Israel. And in the midst of all this, no arrests were reported. This was the largest and most peaceful rally ever to be held. If that’s not unity, what is?
But of course, for every marcher, there is a skeptic that claims demonstrations like these achieve nothing.
However, I’d like to ask you to look around. How is it, that a young woman like myself is standing up here right now? Talking to a room full of people that actually respect what I have to say. As a girl with an education, and with rights. Because I can guarantee that 100 years ago, my education, my rights, my voice did not matter. So, how did that change?
Alice Paul was a suffragette, an advocate for women’s rights from 1910 onward. She was a leader of the movement and like a multitude of others across the globe organized many demonstrations and rallies, all precursors to the women’s march. Suffragists came together to march for rights, rights that I and half of all North Americans would not have, had they not stood up and spoken out.
Where would we be without protest, without objection, without revolt? If change was not demanded, progress would not have occurred.
So, here we are, in 2017, and clearly there’s still work to be done on the grounds of equality. But we can achieve progress if we keep fighting for it, if we demand it. The women’s march created momentum, momentum that is a necessary element of social change and justice. The movement brought awareness to the issues that we continue to face today and united millions across the globe to stand for equality and acceptance.
So here I am, like Sophie Cruz, speaking with courage about something I am so very passionate about, certain that there is a whole world out there that still has their hearts filled with love.