“This is what democracy looks like!”
Chants like this echoed throughout the streets of downtown Omaha on Jan. 21, as part of a Sister March to the Women’s March on Washington. The purpose of the March was to “send a bold message to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” according to the Women’s March on Washington’s official website. An estimated 673 marches occurred globally, with one occurring on every continent (even Antarctica) and nearly 5 million people participating.
In Omaha, somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 people participated in the March (according to the Omaha World Herald). To put that in perspective, that is approximately the same size as 20 Marian High Schools.
Several Marian girls participated in the March, despite the fact that it occurred on the same night as Marian’s Winter Formal. “We went to the March in our Winter Formal dresses, hair and makeup,” senior Nikki Rhoades said. “The only thing we were missing was our heels, which we left in the car and put on on our way to the dance.”
Sophomore Sally Noble went the extra mile and attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C.
“I’ve never been in a place with so much passion and energy,” Noble said. “Everyone came from so many different backgrounds and was so different, yet all rallied behind the same cause.”
Each person at the March attended for a different reason and each person brought new meaning to the March. “I marched in solidarity for all of the groups that have been dehumanized over the years, to show support for them and stand with them,” sophomore Gorretty Ofafa said.
Noble was there for a similar, yet slightly different reason. “I was there to support the rights of women. We have come so far in the past decades, and I do not want us to backtrack,” Noble said.
While the March was not entirely aimed at the new executive administration, some people were still there for political reasons.
“The reason I marched was because women’s rights and overall rights of minorities are still a huge issue. Also, I’ve had politics on my mind a lot since the election, and I really wanted to get out and stand with a community of people who are willing to march for their human rights,” freshman Nina Abbott said.
Being a student at an all-girls’ school affected some girls’ decision to support the March.“We’re an all-girls’ school! It’s important for us, as women, to stand up for our rights in a government that under-represents us,” junior Courtney Kilroy said.
However, there was some backlash as a result of the March, as some did not agree with what the March stood for.
“I love that in America you can change something if you don’t like it, and it is phenomenal that women have the right to do that,” sophomore Corah Johnson said. “However, I have a problem with with the way the March was done. I feel as though it was not inclusive of all genders and races, and of women who do not necessarily agree with the majority. A women’s march should be for everyone.”
Some also questioned why the March even happened, because they did not understand what women were protesting against. “When anybody would ask a girl who marched what they were marching for, what rights they were fighting for; they never had a specific response,” sophomore Kayla Bales said. “So, if you don’t even know what you are marching for, why are you marching? What rights do women not have that they felt the need to march all over the country?”
However, Women’s Studies teacher Susie Sisson offered up an explanation for that. “Even though women’s rights have advanced, women are still subject to hearing demeaning comments. There are still double standards,” Sisson said. “Women have to put up with things that men do not, and bearing with that inequality is something that we have to pay attention to.”
Despite criticism, the March was overall a peaceful protest. “It was amazing how peaceful it was, there was no fighting and everyone was extremely respectful,” Noble said. “Even when anti-protesters were yelling at the [the protesters], everyone ignored them and did not sink to their level.”
“Of course it was peaceful and polite; we’re women,” Sisson said.