Women’s March effective in promoting multiple issues

June 26, 2019
Written By:
Jared Wadley
D.C. Women's March 2019. Image credit: Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr

D.C. Women’s March 2019. Image credit: Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr

ANN ARBOR—When women organize marches or events to bring light to issues in addition to gender, a key question is whether it becomes more inclusive to the interests of marginalized groups.

These efforts focus on more than one issue to resolve struggles for social justice—described as intersectional activism—a new University of Michigan study found.

The protests, therefore, include more grassroots participants who feel their concerns are being addressed, said study author Michael Heaney, adjunct research professor at the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

“This research highlights the importance of march organizers and grassroots participants in adopting collective action frames … (and) demonstrates how this process is both organizationally and ideologically driven,” Heaney said.

Published in Politics, Groups, and Identities, Heaney’s study used survey responses from women’s marches in five cities and four others at Washington, D.C., activist events in 2018 regarding prioritizing intersectional activism.

Those who attended the women’s marches (New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Lansing, Michigan) preferred to support multiple issues involving social justice than those gathering at the Washington, D.C., events that did not focus on intersectional activism. The latter events included March for Life (anti-abortion), People’s March (pro-impeachment), March for Our Lives (pro-gun control) and March for Trump.

Surveyors asked nearly 1,000 participants about their political attitudes, past movement participation and attitudes about empowering the perspectives of subgroups of women, such as minorities, LGBTQIA+ and low-income.

At nonwomen’s march events, many participants viewed intersectional activism as important, but not necessarily something upon which they would place a high priority, the study showed.

Ideology, Heaney noted, may play a significant barrier to intersectional activism, with moderate and conservative activists placing a lower priority on the concept than their liberal counterparts.


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