The 2019 Women’s March (on Washington D.C., and cities around the world) marked “two years of resistance to the Trump presidency, two years of training new activists, and two years of building power.” Since the first march on January 21 2017, the day after the inauguration, the Women’s March has grown considerably, “from an organic movement to a new organizational model, with a continued focus on intersectionality and women’s rights,” says a spokesperson from Women’s March.*
It started as more of a gathering of voices than a strict organization, and the Women’s March has maintained that characteristic as it’s grown. Although it’s had a strong visual identity from the outset, it’s one that’s been made up of collaborations, open source design, and a diversity of voices, aesthetics, and approaches (see examples via NYCLU’s Instagram). “We draw our inspiration from movements that have come before us, the work within local communities, and grassroots mobilization,” says a spokesperson.
The Pussyhat, initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, was worn by many of the half a million people at the 2017 Women’s March on Washington D.C.; while Deva Pardue’s “Femme Fists,” Hayley Gilmore’s “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” and Amanda Brinkman’s “Nasty Woman” T-shirt were all massive successes: they resonated deeply with supporters and became key fundraising products for associated causes (it also left them prone to corporate copy-cats).
Along with the contributions of individuals, this year the Women’s March also partnered with online arts platform Visionaire on a new open source magazine called NOW!, which can be downloaded as a set of posters by artists including Kim Gordon, Marilyn Minter, Zoe Buckman, and Hank Willis Thomas. In addition to addressing issues around the women’s movement, NOW! also tackles the opioid crisis, gun control, and climate change.
There’s also a new hashtag. This year, the Women’s March was redefined as the #WomensWave, to mark, in part, the ways it has grown in terms of focus and drive, with partner organizations including Planned Parenthood Action Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, Indigenous Environmental Network, Rock the Vote, and many more. Now a formal organization in its own right, the Women’s March has updated its own messaging strategy “to make sure all voices are equally represented.”
This year, the Women’s March also announced the Women’s Agenda, a new federal policy platform for the women’s movement developed with more than 70 movement leaders and policy experts, “a tangible declaration of how we’ll protect and defend our rights, safety, health, and communities.” Recognizing the difficulty of sustaining the energy of political movements, the Women’s March organization puts its continued momentum down to “being fuelled by the women and allies who’ve pushed this movement forward;” and “maintaining complete transparency with our network, board members, and steering committee about our mission in the resistance.”
It could also be down to, at least in part, its openness about growth, both in terms of its mission and its visual identity. The Women’s March is led by its communities, and the open source, often collaborative posters, hats, T-shirts, and signs are as varied and distinctive as the people wearing or carrying them. Rather than seeking clear, solid definition, the Women’s March remains open, and continues to unpack what it is and what it could be. “The mission continues to grown every day,” says a spokesperson. “As a young organization, the Women’s March is open to learning more about communities whose voices have been suppressed and giving them a platform to be seen and heard.”
*Spokesperson verified but unnamed