The Women’s March on Washington has released its official policy platform, a far-reaching four-page statement that takes clear stances on reproductive rights, immigration reform, and worker’s issues.
The platform puts the march in support of the usual feminist suspects: the long-overdue Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay, paid family leave, and an end to violence against women. But it doesn’t shy away from issues that promise to rankle at least a few people who were planning on attending the Jan. 21 march.
Organizers have laid out an unapologetically radical, progressive vision for justice in America, placing the march in the context of other past and ongoing movements for equality. “We welcome vibrant collaboration and honor the legacy of the movements before us—the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more,” the statement starts out. It name-checks feminist leaders that represent a diverse range of ideologies and issues, including Harriet Tubman, Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Malala Yousafzai, farmworker organizer Dolores Huerta, former Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller, and Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman who was an instrumental leader of the Stonewall uprising.
The platform supports increased accountability for perpetrators of police brutality and racial profiling, demanding the demilitarization of American law enforcement and an end to mass incarceration. It calls for comprehensive antidiscrimination protections, health care, and gender-affirming identity documents for LGBTQ people. It calls unions “critical to a healthy and thriving economy” and aligns the march with movements for the rights of sex workers, farmworkers, and domestic workers.
March leaders have gone further than supporting access to safe, legal abortion and reproductive health care to demand the right to abortion for women of all incomes. (Even many supposedly “pro-choice” politicians have squeaked away from advocating an end to the ban on public funding for abortions, so this is commendable.) As for immigration, “we reject mass deportation, family detention, violations of due process and violence against queer and trans migrants,” the statement reads. “We recognize that the call to action to love our neighbor is not limited to the United States, because there is a global migration crisis. We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.”
It’s an impressive political move for a march that started out as a mess of conflicting viewpoints and poor planning. Organizers understandably took their time devising a concrete platform, likely in part because the event’s visibility (and potential to become a target of scrutiny) has skyrocketed in the last month or so. The march started out as a general pro-women event that seemed to want to be everything to everyone, and in the process, set itself up to disappoint everyone: both apolitical women who just like marching and people who wanted to make a stronger statement.
When Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, the NAACP, and other organizations with explicitly political agendas started coming aboard last month, it became clear that the march was planning on sacrificing mass appeal for the chance to use its hypervisibility in support of critical, if controversial, issues. Some white women have even decided not to attend the march because they were uncomfortable with discussions about race and privilege that arose on the march’s official Facebook page.
That’s just fine. And if some women decide they can’t get behind Medicaid-covered abortions, a humane immigration system, and police who answer for their crimes against people of color, the march won’t miss them. The leaders of the Women’s March should be applauded for taking an uncompromising stance on the most urgent political matters of our time, even if it means internal conflict among march participants or a diminished turnout. Now is not the time for uncritical mass appeal, and marches are terrible vehicles for equivocation.