The organizers of the Women’s Marches in January have created a new, women-led political organization to broaden the reach and goals of the march.
March Forward Massachusetts, one of the organizers of the Women’s March, announced the creation of the organization March On, to make the mission behind the January march into a movement, according to a March Forward Massachusetts press release. The goal is to crowdsource a political platform between women and allies and then use it to make changes in the political system, specifically for elections.
Penelope Chester, an organizer with March On, wrote in an email March Forward Massachusetts has been heavily involved with political issues relevant to the area.
“We have affiliates active at the state and local levels across the country, while we provide a platform for cross-country coordination and amplification, as well as a national agenda our marchers can get behind,” Chester wrote. “March Forward Massachusetts has been … focusing on and tackling issues relevant to the community — and we will be doing all we can to support the local initiatives from our national perspective.”
Chester said the group will be devoting an “army of marchers”, also known as “marchroots,” to expand the vote in America by having them flood the streets and march voters to voting booths in every precinct in the country. More specifically, March On will be working behind the lines to address election issues.
“We’ll be working on campaigns and elections well in advance of that, registering voters, tackling voter suppression, endorsing candidates,” Chester wrote. “There is an enormous amount of work to be done to turn our country around and we are going to commit our ‘marchroots’ to the mission.”
March On will be crowdsourcing the types of ideas and issues they should fight for, Chester wrote.
“We will soon be launching Operation Marching Orders, in which we encourage community building for folks to debate and discuss key issues the March On community cares about and then weigh in using a polling platform,” Chester wrote. “In this way, by crowdsourcing certain specifics of the political agenda we’ll pursue, March On empowers the people to provide the “marching orders” for the movement.”
Nancy Lowenstein, the director of the behavior and health program in Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said organizations like March On can help to give women a better platform to express their concerns about issues.
“It gives women a place to have their voices heard in a more politically active way, and that’s really important,” Lowenstein said. “When you get a group that can be heard and be vocal then people stop and take notice as opposed to a group here or there, individuals.”
Lowenstein said it is already rough to be a woman in politics or to be a woman with political opinions due to societal standards.
“I don’t think there are enough women in politics and there’s a double standard when women try and run for office that a woman who is seen as powerful is often seen as … b****y or something else,” Lowenstein said. “It’s difficult to be a woman in politics. You have to have a really tough skin, but I think we need a lot more women in politics. The feminine voice or the woman’s voice needs to be heard.”
Several Boston residents said women’s rights are important and this organization could empower women politically.
Paul Sonenthal, 35, of Allston, said he is an advocate for women’s rights and that it’s important there’s an official outlet for women to fight against their marginalization.
“It’s important that there’s an outlet for people who advocate for their rights,” Sonenthal said. “There are a lot of reasons why ways in which people are marginalized become more common knowledge, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, cellphone videos recording things. I think this is an opportunity to speak up and be heard and I support it wholeheartedly.”
Jen Carlson, 34, of Brighton, said organizations like this are essential now considering the current presidential administration.
“Especially right now with the Trump administration in place, there’s a lot of concern about women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, right for immigrants and basic human rights across the board,” Carlson said. “I think it’s much needed to not only advocate for women’s rights, but really any human rights.”
Jamal Love, 25, of Dorchester, said men need to start to recognize their part in women’s rights and this organization can help men to realize the problem.
“Women have always tried to raise awareness for rights for themselves, but it’s up to men to recognize and understand the part that we play,” Love said. “The things that we can do to help alleviate. The little things on a day-to-day basis that we can do.”
Erin Edwards, Jordan Kimmel and Hannah Rogers contributed to the reporting of this article.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to Penelope Chester as “an organizer with March On Canada.” Though she is affiliated with March On Canada, she was speaking on behalf of March On at the national level.