Media outlets have supported the Women’s March since its formation in 2017. However, this year’s march was notably absent from mainstream media platforms. 2019’s march saw 80 events take place across 31 countries. Hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets worldwide to have their voices heard. Social media was flooded with pictures of protesters with their signs at these events. Yet, traditional media coverage seemed to be considerably less than previous years.
The lack of coverage of the event has been linked to an anti-Semitism controversy that currently engulfs the leaders of the Women’s March. Claims of anti-Semitic behaviour have caused sponsors of the event to drop dramatically. While the foundation has been rocked by these allegations, it is important to keep up the momentum of the message behind it going. This article investigates why the march’s message of hope and support for suppressed women is as relevant today, as it has always been.
Gender Pay Gap
According to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap in the UK in 2018 was 8.6 per cent among full- time employees. Though this is considerable improvement on prior investigations, there is still a way to go until women and men are paid the same amount for the same job. Therefore, this march and other protests are platforms for those who feel unjustly treated by their employers, to voice their demands and be heard.
In 2018 after rising protests, over 10,000 companies were forced into publishing their own detailed gender pay gaps. The results clarified the lack of equality amongst the sexes. In every sector of the professional world, men are paid more than women. Construction, Finance and Education bore the largest pay gap between the genders, with gaps exceeding 20 per cent. The battle for equality amongst sexes is one that has developed well in the past few years, but these results indicate there are still some serious questions to be asked about the treatment of women in professional environments.
A Platform for the Previously Suppressed
The feeling of empowerment that comes from the events surrounding the Women’s March is unmistakable. This feeling, in collaboration with on-going campaigns such as #MeToo and Time’s Up, triggers people to speak freely of their experiences with sexual assault and harassment without fear of repercussions. The marches have played a role in creating a safe community in which people from all walks of life can support one another and be free to discuss their experiences, and voice the stories of the oppressed.
Shockingly, it is reported that 137,000 women and young girls in England and Wales have been affected by Female Genital Mutilation. Moreover, there were 5,391 cases of FGM reported in England between 2016 and 2017. This is an uncomfortable truth that is too often overlooked due to its extremity. As a young woman myself, and having had discussions with my peers, it is clear to me that FGM is an issue that as a society we distance ourselves from. One positive thing I have always taken from Women’s Marches and protests, is the participants’ openness to stand up for girls who have had their voices silenced by oppressors. These events enable the stories of the women and girls, who are affected by Female Genital Mutilation, abuse and harassment, to be heard. The voices of these women and girls have, for far too long, been stifled; marches allow their stories to remain at the forefront of discussions.
What happens next?
Creating an environment in which women can voice the injustices that they experience is necessary in working towards achieving gender equality. Though marches alone cannot solve this deeply rooted injustice, they help to keep the issue at the forefront of people’s minds and spread awareness of other causes that may otherwise continue to be taboo. They must, therefore, regenerate and expand regardless of setbacks or controversy.