Marching On panel considers legacy of women’s march

Danielle Drake-Flam | News Editor

A panel of women’s rights activists discussed the impact and ongoing implications of the Women’s March in Seigle Hall Sunday.

The Women’s March led to millions of women across the country taking to the streets to advocate for women’s rights in January.

Marchers at the Women’s March on St. Louis hold signs as they head in the direction of the Arch. The march was held as a sister march to the Women’s March on Washington.Sami Klein | Student Life

Marchers at the Women’s March on St. Louis hold signs as they head in the direction of the Arch. The march was held as a sister march to the Women’s March on Washington.

The panel, organized by women’s empowerment group OWN IT, brought together Washington University alumni Heather Calvin and Bonnie Adrian and Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Emelyn dela Pena. Senior Yaala Muller moderated the discussion.

In discussing the march, organizers hoped that attendees would be inspired to think proactively about activism moving forward.

“We wanted something that would entice people to come—be really relevant—so we were thinking how to tie in the election and the current climate in the U.S. because its a very interesting time to be a woman and a very pivotal moment in women’s rights,” said freshman OWN IT member and event organizer Abby Rubin.

The panel was casual and allowed for free discussion between the panelists and audience members.

Adrian—who, along with Calvin, helped to challenge and ultimately eradicate ThurtenE carnival’s policy of being an all-male student-organized event—discussed her experience with her daughter at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., advocating for attending protests in addition to political activism through social media.

“It really is a rewarding experience to sort of put your body on the streets,” Adrian said, “It’simportant to show up physically. I think there’s a small presence to be counted that way that maybe counts more than clicking on something. But I think we can’t make it all about showing up and being on the streets…there’s how we treat other people day in and day out.”

Dela Pena added that activism can take a variety of forms.

“I think that as I’ve grown older and started getting more busy and more involved in my career, my activism has shifted from more of a direct action to things that might involve policy changes, educational interventions, scholarly work that might, you know, get the message out to more folks in very different ways,” dela Pena said.

The discussion left many audience members feeling empowered. Rubin was particularly inspired by the panelists, saying that the discussion helped to motivate her.

“I was really glad to hear them talk because it motivated me to keep working and to sort of pick up where they left off,” Rubin said. “I think that if anything has come out of just the progress that they’ve made, it’s that it’s becoming so much more accepted for women to be themselves and to be empowered and to be whatever they want to be. I feel that we are the first generation born into that. I feel good about it, but I feel that we have a lot more work to do.”