- The Women’s Marches on January 21
The day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, 5.6 million people took to the streets to resist Trump’s agenda and advocate for women’s equality, reproductive rights and healthcare, racial justice, LGBTQ equality, economic opportunity, and environmental justice. People marched in at least 999 marches, in all 50 states, in 92 countries, and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. At the time, naysayers tried to dismiss the marches as a one-time event, a single day of rage. But they know now what we knew then: our momentum is strong and feminists will not be silenced.
- Women are running for office at an unprecedented rate
When Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified presidential candidates in history, lost to an inexperienced, immature misogynist, thousands of women across the country decided it was their duty to run for office and be the change they wanted to see. Emily’s List says that in the ten months before the 2016 elections, about 1,000 women had contacted the organization interested in running for office. Since Trump’s election, that number has jumped to over 22,000. From county school boards to Capitol Hill, women are running in unprecedented numbers. 291 Democratic women are running for seats in the House of Representatives and 25 Democratic women are running for the Senate, twice as many women as were running two years ago. Many of these women are running against Republican incumbents. We could be looking at another year of the woman—or decade of the woman.
- And in November 2017, feminists won big.
In Virginia, Democrats picked up at least 15 seats in the House of Delegates, unseating the Republican super-majority; at least 11 of those victories went to feminist women, many running for the first time against incumbents. Delegate-elect Danica Roem became the first transgender lawmaker in Virginia, and Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis city council member-elect, became the first transgender woman of color ever elected to public office. Democrat Vi Lyles was the first black woman elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Joyce Craig defeated the longtime Republican mayor of Manchester to become the first woman mayor of New Hampshire’s biggest city. The bottom line is this: when women run, women win. And this is only the beginning.
- Nevada ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment
The threat that Donald Trump’s judicial appointments pose to the future of women’s rights has renewed the national call to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In March, Nevada answered that call when they became the 36th state, the first state since 1982, to ratify the ERA. Even though Congress imposed a seven year deadline when they passed the ERA in 1972, many Constitutional scholars believe that because the time-limit is in the pre-amble of the amendment, and therefore not voted on by the states, it is subject to extension by a vote in Congress, reviving efforts to push states to ratify. The dream of women’s constitutional equality lives.
- Stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act
In 2017, Republicans tried at least four times to repeal the ACA and decimate Medicaid, and every single time, the people said NO. Activists held sit-ins in Senators’ offices; people with disabilities forced Capitol Police to physically drag them out of hearing rooms while they chanted “Don’t kill me, kill the bill”; people with pre-existing conditions and parents of children on Medicaid held daily rallies and marches on the lawn of Capitol Hill; constituents flooded town halls and demanded that their Representatives listen to their voices. We were able to save a piece of legislation that was responsible for providing millions of people with life-saving health insurance—the majority of whom are women, banned sex discrimination in pricing and benefits, and finally guaranteed women access to the essential healthcare services they rely on, like maternity care, birth control without co-pays or deductibles, and cancer screenings. This bill was life-changing for women, and we simply won’t go back.
- Oregon and Illinois Authorize State Funding for Abortions
In the Trump-era, so many states have stepped up to defend civil rights, but two states have taken the lead in ensuring access to abortion care for their most vulnerable residents. Oregon passed a law to guarantee no-cost birth control, abortions, STI testing and more to every resident of the state, including undocumented immigrants, gender non-conforming people, and transgender individuals. This is the most comprehensive law to protect access to reproductive healthcare ever passed at the state level. Illinois became the first state in over twenty years to voluntarily pass a law permitting funding for abortions under the state Medicaid program, as well as under the state insurance programs for state employees. And the bill was signed into law by a Republican governor, showing that this is not a partisan issue, but rather a matter of economic justice. Abortion is not a constitutionally protected right only for wealthy women. Medicaid isn’t supposed to be wielded as a weapon to punish poor women. But that is exactly what it becomes when we use women’s bodies as a battleground for a draconian agenda that the majority of Americans do not support.
- State Attorneys General Fight Back Against the Trump Administration
Attorneys General in 22 states have taken up the fight to defend civil rights under the Trump administration. 19 sued to stop the administration from withholding health insurance subsidies promised to states through the Affordable Care Act. 16 sued to stop the rollback of environmental protection regulations. 20 sued over the president’s decision to rescind legal protections for Dreamers. And state Attorneys General were responsible for stopping Trump’s Muslim ban not once, not twice, but three times. In all, there were nearly two dozen multi-state lawsuits brought against the Trump administration in the first nine months he was in office. With progressive defenders like Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, vulnerable people have powerful allies in the fight against the Trump administration.
- And We Have Feminist Champions in Congress
Woe unto the man who tries to silence the feminist women of the House and Senate. When Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to read a 1986 letter that Coretta Scott King wrote about Jeff Sessions, the Presiding Senate Chair ordered her to stop ascribing defamatory conduct or motive onto Sessions. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” When Congresswoman Maxine Waters demanded that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explain financial impropriety between foreign banks and the Trump administration, he tried to give her the runaround. “Reclaiming my time.” When Senator Kirsten Gillibrand began calling for renewed attention to the accusations of sexual assault against Trump, he posted a Tweet implying that she was willing to exchange sexual favors for campaign contributions. “You cannot silence me.” And even though the Congress and President are hostile to a feminist agenda, Democratic women have introduced legislation on everything from codifying Title IX guidance, to stopping Trump’s Global Gag Rule, to enforcing women’s constitutional right to access abortion.
- The #MeToo Movement
10 years ago, activist Tarana Burke began a movement to unify people who have survived sexual assault, a way for survivors to tell other survivors that they are not alone and that healing is possible. This year that movement didn’t just take off, it took over. The man occupying the Oval Office is a self-confessed sexual predator who consistently labels the 16 women he has allegedly victimized as liars. It’s a disgusting attempt to silence all survivors, and women are fighting back with their voices and truths. For those who somehow had doubt about the magnitude of the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment, #MeToo has put the reality on display. But #MeToo is so much more to so many others. Countless survivors, many for the first time, are empowered to share their stories because they feel like they will be believed, embraced and supported. And the prospect for turning this truth sharing into substantive policy change is stronger than it has ever been before. For those who are unable to speak out about their experiences: your truth and your strength is not lesser. We see you, we believe you, and we will fight for you.
- We’re Heading Into 2018 With Incredible Momentum
The feminist movement is as strong as ever. Feminists are marching, campaigning, governing, advocating, protesting, living their lives, fighting back, and speaking their truths—and America is tuning in. And you can be a part of all of it. Sign up for the Feminist Majority email alerts and follow us on Twitter.