A Manifesto for Minnesotan Marchers 

This January 21st, 2017, we march at capitals across the nation, in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the world in recognition that “women’s rights are human rights.” Read on to learn why we march, how public policy affects our lives, and how our identities shape our individual and communal American experience.

Why We March

We march because policies are more than politics and affect our everyday lives; because civic engagement and speaking truth to power provide the foundation of our democratic political system and society; and because we uphold our constitution and the rights it enshrines!

In the spirit of Coretta Scott King, we believe that you cannot stand for freedom for one group and deny it to others. Personal prejudice and systemic discrimination are pervasive in America and lead to the marginalization of many people, including women, people of color, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, LGBTQIA individuals, immigrants, religious minorities and people with disabilities. We march for the rights of marginalized communities, for just and equitable systems, and for the freedom of all peoples who make up our diverse nation. We know that Minnesota is not immune from discrimination or disparities and vow to work toward more inclusive, equitable communities.

The Right to Economic Opportunity

Any issue is a women’s issue because we carry the weight of the community on our back. That’s why this march is not just for women.
— Tamika Mallory, Women’s March on Washington Co-Chair 

Approximately 70% of America’s impoverished are women and children.  We recognize that over 50% of American women are the breadwinners of their families and that women, particularly women of color and immigrant and migrant communities, disproportionately provide our nation’s paid and unpaid domestic labor and caregiving. According to the Shriver Report:

  • Approximately 1 in 3 women live in or on the brink of poverty in the U.S.  This amounts to 42 million women and 28 million children.
  • On average, white women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a white male makes.  This figure is much lower for women of color.  African American women earn only 64 cents and Hispanic women only 55 cents for every dollar made by a white man in the same profession with the same level of skill and experience. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, most receive zero paid sick days to care for themselves or ill family members.
  • Similar studies show that women with disabilities face greater discrimination in the workforce and are more likely to live in poverty than non-disabled women 

The Right to Healthcare

The U.S. remains one of the only wealthy nations that does not provide universal healthcare for its citizens. Consequently, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have increasingly provided Americans with one of the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to accessible and quality healthcare. Repealing the ACA (also called “Obamacare”) would disproportionately impact women, children, low-income communities, communities of color, young adults, and the chronically ill.

  • Before the ACA only about 12% of the health care plans sold in the individual market offered maternity coverage and women paid about $1 billion more than men each year for identical health plans because being a women was considered “a pre-existing condition.”
  • The ACA mandates that health insurance plans must cover contraceptive methods and pills without copay or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider — even if you haven’t met your deductible.
  • If the ACA is repealed, the number of uninsured people would dramatically increase to approximately 24 million people by 2027. 81% of those losing coverage would be working families, 66% would have a high school diploma or less, 40% would be young adults, and just under 50% would be people of color.
  • If the ACA is repealed, insurance providers may again deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, prenatal and postnatal care, mental health treatment, and for survivors of domestic violence.
  • Repealing the ACA would be expensive, costing state governments about $68.5 billion over the next decade.

The Right to Human Dignity and Personal Safety 

One of the most essential human rights is that to human dignity and personal safety.  Human dignity implies treating all peoples with respect, empathy, and humanity. Personal safety means that all individuals are guaranteed equal protection to safe living conditions, working conditions, judicial processing, autonomy over one’s body, freedom from abuse and torture, and equitable treatment by law enforcement.

Our unity is our strength and our diversity is our power.
— Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator (CA) 

The Right to Just Immigration Policies

America must embrace diversity and respect human rights for all because it’s our strength and competitive advantage. Immigrants are productive, essential and highly educated segments of American society. The United States continues to thrive, in no small way, because of the talents, hard work, and ingenuity of immigrant communities.

The Right to Representation

American democracy is founded on the ideals of fair play and equal representation. Our election and legislative systems are more than obscure bureaucracies, they are the rules that ensure our voices are heard and included in policy decisions. Voter suppression efforts undermine these principles and disproportionately target women, youth, people with low-income and communities of color.

  • During this election, fourteen states had new voting restrictions in effect.  These curtailed voting rights by making it more difficult to register to vote, cutting voting hours, and forcing voters to show identification before casting their vote. 
  • Certain states, like North Carolina, have passed legislation that were later deemed unconstitutionally discriminatory against minority communities.  In 2016, Wisconsin’s gerrymandering was deemed unconstitutional by a District Court for overwhelmingly favoring one party.
  • The voices of underrepresented groups must be heard and considered in policy-making irrespective of election outcomes, especially the voices of 65.8 million Americans who did not support the incoming administration’s policies, of which 88% were black, 55% young adults, 54% women, 41% men, and 37% white according to exit polls .

The Right to Reproductive Freedom and Care

Women have a fundamental right to make decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. It is crucial that the legal protections that defend women’s access to safe reproductive care and freedom, including Roe V. Wade, Medicaid, Title X, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), remain intact.

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families—recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
— Women’s March on Washington, Mission Statement 
  • The U.S. has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of all wealthy nations and racial/ethnic disparities are striking. The maternal mortality ratefor black women is nearly four times the rate for white women and black infants are 2.4 times more likely to die than white infants. American Indian infants are 4 times more likely to die of treatable illnesses than their white peers.
  • Policy-makers often cite abortive services as a primary reason to cease federal funding of crucial reproductive care providers such as Planned Parenthood. In reality, under the Hyde Amendment, NO federal dollars are allowed to go to elective abortion care with the exception of rape, incest, or health complications that endanger the mother’s life. Rather, federal funds provided through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning Program help women and their families access crucial prenatal care, cancer screenings, STD testing, and family planning resources including contraceptives.
  • Planned Parenthood provides health care services to 2.5 million men and women each year. Withholding federal Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood would deny 60% of patients access to the clinic’s preventative services, 54% of whom live in areas that do not have other nearby health-care options.
  • Supreme Court Justices could curtail women’s right to an abortion in all 50 states by reversing the seminal Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (1973). If abortion rights are left to the states to decide, the consequences can be dire as evidence by states such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Ohio. Anti-abortion laws inevitably burden low-income women who cannot afford to cross state or country borders to carry out the procedure in a safe and affordable environment.

 

Some Words to Know

Intersectionality

The understanding that people experience oppression and privilege in varying configurations and degrees of intensity because of race, class, ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and age.

Political Correctness

Put simply, showing common decency towards others while engaging in respectful discussions about issues that may be controversial or affect marginalized and disadvantaged groups.

Privilege

Social, economic, political, and/or cultural advantages that a person is granted on the basis of their identity with a particular group. Privilege exists whether we recognize it or not. Only in recognizing privilege can we begin to dismantle it.

Solidarity

Unity that is based upon and produces a shared vision via mutual interests, objectives, standards, and empathy. Solidarity for social justice requires diverse leadership, voices, and perspectives to be honored and upheld.

Systemic Discrimination

Long-held patterns of behavior, policies, and practices that are part of the structure of a society and which create perpetual disadvantage and harm towards targeted populations. This includes an array of interconnected discrimination from sexism, racism, and ableism to homophobia, xenophobia, and islamophobia.

Women's Stories

On 9/11, I'll never forget being cautioned by my mom not to tell anyone I was Muslim for some time (due to backlash). I was 12 years old and that day changed me forever because it was the day I realized I could not always "be myself" as young people are often taught. I also realized that freedom of religion was for certain Americans, not me. This began my quest to understand if Islam really was a religion of terror. I decided that I could NOT practice a religion that taught murdering innocent people. The more I researched, the more I fell in love with my faith. I realized that at the core of Islam was the fundamental teaching that a person is either your brother or sister in faith or your equal in humanity.

Two years after 9/11, I made a decision to wear hijab, thereby making myself more vulnerable to bullying and hate by being the only one in my high school wearing hijab. There was no hiding my faith anymore. While many people suddenly started viewing me as "the other," I had friends who wrote me letters of encouragement and support.

For over fifteen years, I have held onto these letters because they give me hope when times get tough for Muslims in this country. Over time, I have received countless other emails, cards and phone calls expressing concern for our well-being. These simple acts of kindness have empowered me to move forward when I felt surrounded by darkness.

In the words of Mr. Rogers, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Anisa Diab,Fayetteville, NY

 

I am going to the march in DC because I believe in the empowerment of Women as we hold major keys to the world. I was raised in a household where women in particular were cheered constantly. My parents sacrificed their own finances, sent me to an all-girl school, and were advocates of me being a part of everything that would contribute to my success. This march will revive my passion for uplifting my female community.

In my life, I have attended many marches. Marching helps me to connect with like-minded individuals and reboots my spirit to continue serving females in my community. I was pregnant eighteen years ago with my first son when I attended my first march. I remember Faith Evans, ex-wife of the rapper Notorious B.I.G., singing a spiritual song that moved the crowd to tears; it was on my birthday October 25, 1997, with an estimated 750,000 Black women. We gathered together to march on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia to focus on our trials, circumstances, and successes.

This specific election has only proved one of the arguments that I have often made. We have been sold a fraudulent level of the American standard. We as blacks have been lynched every step of our way and have been held to this high standard only to look at this election and see that there is no standard. We were and are constantly told that we are not worthy enough to sit at the table when, in fact, we are over qualified to sit at the table, but still have no seats.

When Trump got elected, I was not shocked at all and I found it interesting that people were upset because he represents what America has been. The powerful conversations about racism, sexism, and gender bias should have been on the table of discussion before this election.

It is with hope that this march empowers and sparks the minds of many on a national, personal, and community based level. I am hoping that a standard will be set in the souls of Women to continue the greatness that our past Women have sacrificed and set for us. The torch of love must remain on fire.

Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, Mount Vernon, New York, Founder of Tha Brown Urban Mother Partnership "Tha B.U.M.P."

Why I march

I march because I don't want to hear about yet another student passing away due to a lack of mental health resources.

I march because at the age of 60 there are still days my mom has to clean rooms to support her and my little brother.

I march because I see the love between my sister and her wife.

I march because I see hope and love in my little brother's and my niece’s eyes,

I see fight in them, I see their abilities to tear down any walls built to make our world a better and safer place.

I march because I can and I should.

Yvonne Gallegos, Albuquerque, New Mexico,New Mexico Women’s March Committee Member

 

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and a gang rape at a fraternity party at age 21. I just turned 23 and I didn't think I'd ever make it past 22. I am becoming a passionate activist in disrupting rape culture and I want to use my story to help and support others. I am tired of being silent about everything that happened to me. I need to use my voice. It's been a huge and very important part of my healing, and it is how I am coping with the fact that a sexual predator was elected president. This is a problem in our society and we need a leader that will support us!

After my assault, I had so many negative experiences, especially with my college institution. The way I was treated and the backlash from administrators and professors was just as bad as my assault and is what triggered me to the point of attempting suicide. This is what I want to advocate for! Institutions and all faculty in them need to know this. Administrators and all faculty need to speak up and stop pretending that their hands are tied. You have a voice, use it. Your support matters.

Using my voice is the only way I know how to help myself heal. I try so hard to get to a place where I can use my voice to make a change, but when there are people that support perpetrators, I feel completely discouraged and stuck. I need all of you to know that your support for survivors matters. We need you! The bravery of survivor voices needs to be accompanied by support from allies. It makes a huge difference knowing there are people out there to support survivors, especially with a sexual predator as president-elect.

Cassie Kay, Winona, MN

 

I’m going to the Women’s March on Washington because of the blatant misogyny that set the tone of the last presidential election, which felt especially hurtful because of the real possibility of having a woman elected president.

I’m feeling this very strongly because I’m a mother of a teenaged girl. I’m going to the march with my 15-year-old daughter so that she can see first-hand how angry women are around the country about Trump’s election. I also want to show her that there is fierce opposition to patriarchal and bigoted discourse - that there is a world of women who won’t let it be normal anymore. I don’t want her to feel like her values are not legitimate just because of the result of the election.

The trip is also important for me because we’re traveling with a faith community. Our church, Unity-Unitarian Church of St. Paul, MN has a very strong social justice mission. I’ve always been involved in social justice actions - my first DC march was against the first Gulf War in 1991, but participating as part of a church group lends a depth to protest. Viewing the long bus trip as pilgrimage helps situate the struggle in its broader context; we all need to work daily to build communities (Beloved Community as described by MLK) where all are seen as legitimate and everyone recognizes how interconnected we truly are. Every single person’s well-being depends on the well-being of others.

Jennifer Vanek, St.Paul, Minnesota, Educator and Researcher

Activism On-the-Go: Share, Snap, Tweet 

#March4wardMN 

In the near future, we will be following up with opportunities for social justice engagement in our state based on your #March4wardMN goals! Pledge individually or with friends/family to continue your activism with the hashtag #March4wardMN and stay in the loop by following WomensMarchMN’s Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. 

Let’s make our hashtags trend! Make sure your status updates are public and use the following hashtags: #WomensMarch, #WhyIMarch, #WhyWeMarch, #WomensMarchMN. Encourage your friends to share, retweet, or like your posts!

Maximize your Impact

  • Use facts from this manifesto.

  • Share a personal experience or honor other inspiring women.

  • Challenge yourself to engage with people in your network who may not understand why we march.

  • Say it with a Picture/Video—post pictures of marcher’s signs and the crowd of marchers to show unity in numbers.

Continue Your Activism 


Click Here for a PDF of this document

This manifesto was created by an identity-diverse community of MN social justice and public policy activists, educators, and scholars. The content is a primer and call to action to learn more about the nuanced issues that affect women across our nation and world.