academiasocial justice On January 21, hundreds of thousands of passionate Americans will unite for the Women’s March on Washington. The mission of the March is “to 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.” Here, Barnard professors reflect on why this March is significant, how it might have an impact on public policy, and what the president should know or do regarding issues important to women.
Prof. Sheri BermanProfessor Sheri Berman, Department of Political Science
“Marches are important as an outlet for citizens to collectively express their views and communicate with government and other people in positions of leadership. They are peaceful, legal ways for citizens to participate in the political process. As for how the March might impact women’s rights, that is hard to say—as it is often difficult to draw direct connections between collective action and political outcomes. That said, politicians do notice and even often respond (!) to the views of citizens in general and their constituents in particular, so the more widespread and fervent particular views appear, the more politicians may take them into account when voting.
“As for what the president should do to enhance women’s rights, that is a giant question. There are literally thousands of policies, regulations, and statements that he could make that would influence the status and position of women in contemporary society. Depending on your view of what the most pressing issues facing women today are, that list could also vary immensely. It is safe to say that Trump has not made women’s rights a cornerstone of his campaign for the presidency thus far, so we will have to wait and see what, if anything, he might do to change the status quo, positively or negatively.”
Prof. Tina CamptProfessor Tina Campt, Director of Barnard Center for Research on Women and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies
“The March is important first of all because it’s really important to occupy space—to physically take control of the nation’s capital and to demonstrate that there is more than one perspective on the way in which this country should be governed. And it’s even more important that that space be occupied by people of color and by women. This is a visible demonstration that cannot be overlooked or overseen right at the moment that our new president is taking office. So the demonstration is important so that we can show that this is our nation’s capital. I grew up in D.C., and for a long time when I was growing up D.C. was overwhelmingly black. So It’s time to make D.C. visibly a place that is owned by the people who potentially could be marginalized by this administration.
“This March is bigger than rights. It’s about affirmation, it’s about respect. It’s about dignity. It’s about possibility. It’s about literally the dignity of being able to interact on an interpersonal level and be