Vermont at the Women's Convention

This past weekend, I spent an inspiring few days in Detroit for the Inaugural Women’s Convention.

The message at the Women’s Convention was clear: resistance doesn’t just mean reacting—it also means pushing for our own agenda.

Women must be central to a movement that will make this agenda a reality.

The Women’s March represents a feminism that encompasses issues across economic, racial, environmental and health care justice issue. And, while it is important to be organizing for women’s rights, that looks very different from community to community. At the end of the day, all of these issues—economic justice, social justice, environmental justice, health care justice, racial justice—are gender justice. They are women’s issues. The women’s agenda must encompass the issues facing us and our communities on a daily basis.

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“Attending the Women’s Convention was an extremely transformational and informative experience. As a national Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March and a participant in the local Vermont chapter, it was uplifting to finally meet and be surrounded with folks who are working on ending systemic oppression daily. I cannot stress the rejuvenating aspects of the Women’s Convention. In tumultuous times locally and nationally, it is important to remember that we are not alone in this work, but rather are part of a strong, powerful, and determined network of activists. Attending the Women’s Convention I was able to reaffirm my activism, but also pushed me to acknowledge where I come from as an individual and how I personally can be more inclusive. I wholly believe my time at the Women’s Convention, while brief, made me an more educated and excited activist.”

Kiran Waqar, National Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington, Women’s March VT, March for Our Future, and Muslim Girls Making Change

What was most exciting for me was being in a space with so many women leaders, especially on the national level, who have been doing this work for decades. The co-chairs of the national march placed a focus on building for a long-term agenda and a sustained movement - not just a moment. For me, this affirmed the work that I do with Rights & Democracy every day, and drove home the fact that we will win by building independent political power. And that we have to do this important work together, across movements, and with our allies.

23120143_1716367741709831_2014102099709642692_o.jpgElise, Kiran, and Marie with State March Organizers from across the country 

Almost a year ago, myself and a group of incredible women began organizing the Women’s March on Montpelier. Vermonters came out in droves on January 21st to march together in solidarity not only with women, but for a collective vision of justice and freedom for all.

While many folks marching that day likely felt a mix of fear and anger about what was to come under the new administration, 20,000 gathered to march forward with a vision of equity and justice.

The 5,000 folks who attended the  Women’s Convention, including several Vermonters, rode the energy of that day all the way into the conference center. During the past nine months, these women have been on the front lines: organizing rapid responses in their communities, including three attempts at an immigration ban and multiple attempts to strip millions of Americans off of their health care (specifically the rights of women to be in control of their own bodies), and taking on issues of local importance.

Women’s March VT has been connecting the thousands who marched with us in Montpelier to the great groups and organizations doing this work on the ground, while organizing calls to action from the national level right here in the state.

My determination to bring the Women’s March Unity Principles to Vermont has deepened and strengthened after attending the Women’s Convention. Women of color, the women of Puerto Rico, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas, St. Augustine, they know what they are doing and we must trust them if we want to see women build power and see lasting, sustainable change. I want the women of Vermont to know that even though it seems like the injustice is not happening in Vermont, that they can and should take action that will improve and protect their own lives, and the lives of women in Vermont and across the country. We must trust our sisters, we must listen to each other, we must challenge each other, and we must build each other up. As Linda Sarsour, Women’s March Co-Chair said so succinctly, “Unity is not uniformity.”  We don’t have to agree on everything in order to work together. We got this.”  

Marie Lallier of Women’s March VT, reflecting on the Women’s Convention

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 The three days I spent at the convention made me feel even more determined to continue building power for an agenda that puts people and the planet first (while working to get some awesome women elected along the way). To cover the costs of this trip and to support future leadership opportunities for progressive women in Vermont, please donate to the Vermont Women’s March Fund.

 

P.S Calling all youths! Check out www.marchforourfuture.com to see how you can lift your voice and get involved in a national youth-centered and youth-lead march on the anniversary of the historic Women’s March.

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