Women around the globe are taking to the streets today, International Women’s Day (IWD), to protest on a range of issues from pay gaps, to gender-based violence, to forced marriages, and to rally for abortion rights. Celebrated on March 8 every year, IWD began on February 28, 1909 in New York when the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day. After that, in 1911, the International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually, internationally. Over one million people supported the first observance. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

A crowd of marchers on Pennsylvania Avenue during the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. Photo by Mario Tama

Similar to IWD, the Women’s Marches have had a global impact. In January 2017, more than seven million people worldwide participated in the Women’s Marches. 673 marches took place around the globe, in 82 countries, and on all seven continents.

“In rare and remarkable instances, a mass mobilization can help galvanize and energize a sprawling new movement, as the 2017 Women’s Marches did with the resistance to Trump. . . the bottom-up, women-led way they came together gave them a powerful and unprecedented movement-building impact.”—L.A. Kauffman, from her book How to Read a Protest

While that there is no single organizer or single agenda for IWD and the Women’s Marches, the resounding message of resistance is clear: it is time for a worldwide movement for gender equality. What both the Women’s Marches and the International Women’s Day protests have done is shown women’s tremendous power.

In just two years, the Women’s Marches have inspired hundreds of women to run for office, millions more to vote, and dozens to win elected positions. 2019 marks two years of galvanizing and an unprecedented number of electoral victories for women in the recent midterm elections. For the first time ever, more than 100 women have been sworn in to the House of Representatives, just over a century after the first woman was sworn in to Congress in 1917.

There was, it must be said, an unmistakable hint of uprising to the Women’s Marches, from the democratic and decentralized way they came together to the way they spilled over the spaces intended to contain them.—L.A. Kauffman, How to Read a Protest

Marching creates movements. Decentralized collective action, in which all share the responsibility of driving the movement, is key. How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance sheds light on the power of protesting and what’s politically possible. Read an excerpt.

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