How I Lead: Women in Food and Agriculture March

Millions attended the Women’s March in over 670 cities on January 21, 2017. Many women in the Women, Food and Agriculture Network attended marches across the United States. We asked our members about their experiences and how they felt food and agriculture issues were represented. Interested in sharing your experiences? Take our short survey here.

Inspirational Turnout at Women’s Marches

“The very large turnout of women of ALL ages was extremely heartening,” said Caroline Dieterle of Iowa City, Iowa. “It reinforced us, all I think, in our resolve to resist this attempt by the new President to put us all down. He can't turn back the clock,” said Caroline Dieterle of Iowa City, Iowa.

WFAN founding mother Denise O’Brien echoed the excitement. “My heart soared as I watched hundreds of people pouring out of their cars; women, children, men wrapped in warm clothing and carrying an array of signs. Yes, many people were coming. Yes, everyone felt driven to march together to make our voices stronger,” she wrote.

“As we approached the capitol, I was astounded at the numbers. We walked up the steps of the capitol to survey the crowd and to hear the words of the women on the stage. The morning was cold and windy but people were swarming onto the capitol grounds. I looked over the crowd to the streets of Des Moines and was moved to tears - this was actually happening!

“We started to march around the capitol surrounded by wonderful people from all parts of Iowa, all ages and all walks of life. As we were marching I took pictures to post on instagram and facebook. As I posted I saw pictures of friends at the same march at the same time. Funny thing is, there were so many people that I never did meet up with those great friends. As I posted pictures, I started seeing pictures from all over the country from friends - Phoenix, L.A., Kansas City, Omaha, Chicago, NYC, Washington D.C. - truly amazing!”

Representation of Food, Farming and the Environment

Debbie Hillman watched the rally in Washington D.C. from her home in Illinois.* She sent us a list of noteworthy details for women in agriculture, including that the two premier partners of the Women’s March on Washington were Planned Parenthood and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“I certainly count NRDC as an explicitly food-and-farm partner, so it’s great to see them put their stake in the ground in such a big way,” she says. A number of organizations working on the environment, food access, and sustainable agriculture were also signed on as partners.

“Most speakers at the rally mentioned a list of issues in their messaging. This is of course one of the strengths of the 21st century women’s movement,” said Debbie. She mentioned food justice was mentioned by one speaker and the themes of land and water came up multiple times, mostly in relation to Standing Rock and Flint, Michigan. She noted she did not hear the word farm used at all. Overall she said she was disappointed with the representation of food and farming messages.

“The best part of the march (in Des Moines) was hearing three young women doing poetry slam; inspirational, motivating and angry,” added Denise. One of the poets featured was Jalesha Johnson of Des Moines, Iowa. Water was a key component of her poetry, which you can view here.

Elevating the Conversation of Women in Agriculture

Did you attend a Women’s March? We are interested in learning more about the representation of women in agriculture in your city. Share your experiences and views in this short survey.

Do you want to ensure women in food and agriculture are represented at every level? Are you a leader? Are you stepping up as an activist? We want to see you at one of our upcoming Plate to Politics workshops. Learn more here.

*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Debbie had physically attended the march in Washington D.C.