Marching for Our Girls’ Future by Dawn Kobel

Last Saturday, I had the incredible experience of attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. I’ve taken part in smaller, supportive rallies and marches throughout my life but never anything that was slated to be so large and encompassing so many issues. I had no idea what to expect, but I was still excited to start meeting up with friends at the airport on Friday morning to head out.

People were posting from their flights, all of us with the same story: almost entirely female passengers, all going to the March. We got free drinks on the plane as a thank you for marching. And two friends and I ended up on the Facebook wall of a worker at Chili’s in the airport because she was so excited to talk to people who were going. Once there, we met up with other friends from around the country, ending up with a group of 14+ women, ages 16-67 (thanks to some family members joining), representing six states. I was thrilled to reconnect with some old friends and make new ones, but what I didn’t know was that this group would be so representative of the entire experience.

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Dawn and her friends with their signs getting ready to march in D.C.

We made signs the night before, strapping them on in the morning for the walk to the rally. There was palpable excitement in the air the second we hit the street, people smiling and greeting each other as they passed, some people who weren’t going to the march but still passed saying “Thank you” or “You do it!” as they walked the other way. Police were friendly, high-fiving and taking photos with marchers. Everything was great.

And then we got close to the rally. The amount of bodies that we could see was beyond what we expected. As we smashed our way into the crowd to listen to  a group of inspiring speakers, you could hear the waves of response coming from other directions, making us aware that, even though we were already in the midst of a massive crowd, there were so many more people out there that we hadn’t seen yet. People were a little nervous, as it was D.C., a large crowd and a volatile time in our country. As Americans, we have learned the hard lesson that anything is possible and safety is never guaranteed, but as you looked around and saw old women in wheelchairs and small children on their parents’ shoulders, you somehow knew it was going to be okay.

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A small snapshot of the enormous crowds on D.C.’s streets for the march

The march route was slow, it was crowded and it was charged with positive energy. You couldn’t see where you were going, people kept filtering in to an already packed main route from small side streets, and yet, everyone was peaceful. People moved aside. You started up conversations with whoever you were next to. I met two women who flew in from Australia for the march because they felt that they had to “support our country.” Women with ERA sashes. People leading chants. My group leading laughs to break up the time between chants. Really creative and thoughtful signs.

The signs did help to lighten the mood and make you think along the way, but after the march, I was a little saddened to see that so many news stories just focused on the humorous signs. They were a big part of the day and of expression, but this event was about so much more than just signs and slogans, about more than women’s rights….it was about bringing people together to raise their voice to draw attention to whatever their issue was, and there were so many issues represented. It was about respect, about learning, about getting out frustrations in a safe and constructive way. It was about a large group of people from all over the place, of different sexes, different races, ages and religions, wanting to be heard. It truly was about America and what this country is meant to be.

I am always proud to work for an organization that helps to empower girls to use their voice and be agents of change. And while I wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to march to feel heard, I hope that the girls that grow up with Girls in the Game will continue to use their voice no matter their age or their location to right whatever wrongs they see.  I was happy to know that many of my friends and coworkers were marching in Chicago and other cities around the country that day and even happier to hear that everyone was peaceful.

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Marchers with capes made from Shepard Fairey’s art

I watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz bring hundreds of thousands of people to tears at the rally with a simple and sweet message of solidarity. Voices raised together can be powerful, but a single voice spoken with intelligence and heart can be just as strong. Girls in the Game teaches this to thousands of girls every year. If those girls lead by example and share those lessons, think about what they could accomplish. The future is definitely uncertain, but I am proud to know so many strong and passionate people who I know will make the world better in a variety of ways and so excited to see what I feel to be true: Girls will truly one day run the world.

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