Planned Parenthood and Gloria Steinem have signed on as partners for the Women’s March on Washington set to take place on Saturday, Jan. 21., the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood will “provide support to march planning efforts, help guide safety plans, [and] utilize their robust digital platforms and staff resources as needed” in support of the march. With its vast network of volunteers, employees, clients, affiliated activists, and more than 210,000 new donors gained since the election, the nonprofit will lend credibility and logistical know-how to the march efforts.
“We will send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive health care, abortion services, and access to Planned Parenthood, as they intersect with the rights of young people, people of color, immigrants, and people of all faiths, backgrounds, and incomes,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement.
Though the march currently has no united platform or mission beyond the basic promotion of “human rights,” Planned Parenthood’s involvement signals that it will take a general stance in favor of reproductive rights. Amnesty International USA, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the NAACP, OXFAM, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Organization for Women have also signed on as partners in the march. March co-chair Bob Bland told BuzzFeed that march leadership will announce an official policy platform in early 2017. The march has also begun searching for female-identified artists in the U.S. to submit work to be considered for tens of thousands of posters to be printed for the event. Winners will receive $500 per piece of work.
Steinem and musician/activist Harry Belafonte will be honorary co-chairs of the march; they will attend the event, but march leadership hasn’t yet announced whether they’ll be among the speakers at the 10 a.m. kickoff rally at Independence Avenue and Third Street SW. Belafonte is the founder of the Gathering for Justice, a racial-justice nonprofit currently headed by Women’s March co-chair Carmen Perez.
“Our Constitution does not begin with ‘I, the President.’ It begins with, ‘We, the People,’” Steinem said in a statement. “I am proud to be one of thousands who will come to Washington to make clear that we will keep working for a democracy in which we are linked as human beings, not ranked by race or gender or class or any other label.”
Nearly a year ago, while campaigning for Hillary Clinton, Steinem became the target of some rancor in feminist circles for insinuating that young women might join the Bernie Sanders movement just to get dates. “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’” Steinem said in an interview with Bill Maher. (Two days later, she apologized for the statement and claimed it was misinterpreted.) The ensuing pushback from young Sanders supporters and insulted Clinton fans revealed a generation gap between longtime feminist leaders like Steinem and rising activists who don’t believe electing a woman, no matter her politics, is always the best feminist move.
Putting Steinem and Planned Parenthood in hyper-visible leadership roles may force the march, which has run into some challenges by trying to be everything to everyone, into some difficult political conversations it has been trying to avoid. Already, in comments on the march’s Facebook post about its new partners, users have pushed for a greater focus on environmental issues and claimed “national activists” were ruining the march’s potential for unity by “making it about abortion.” Many of the march’s new partners have taken explicit stances against the anti-woman philosophies and actions of the president-elect, but the march’s organizers have insisted time and again that the event is “not targeting Trump specifically.”