On Saturday January 21 activists and allies will be meeting in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, in addition to over 600 sister marches that have sprung up throughout the world in solidarity. The mission and vision of the Women’s March on Washington is simple and clear:
We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
We at Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and are ready to be a strong voice in fighting for inclusiveness, diversity, and equality.
All great social and political movements need anthems and rally cries. Pop musician Fiona Apple has already released her contribution, which makes references to “tiny hands”. But we can turn to history for powerful and unifying songs. One of the most famous examples being Dame Ethel Smyth’s suffrage anthem, “March of the Women”.
The song was popular throughout the British suffragette movement, sung in rallies as well as in jail cells. The moving 2015 film “Suffragette” made prominent use of the song, as did the 1974 BBC series about the suffrage movement “Shoulder to Shoulder” — which drew its title from this wonderful last verse of the song:
Life, strife—those two are one,
Naught can ye win but by faith and daring.
On, on—that ye have done
But for the work of today preparing.
Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance,
(Laugh in hope, for sure is the end)
March, march—many as one,
Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend.
Smyth spent years devoted to the Women’s Suffrage cause, and even went to jail for it, so I am sure that she is together in spirit (as well as with her rousing anthem) with all those who will be in the Women’s March on Washington, and in all the many events being organized worldwide in solidarity. As we finish our signs, hats, rally cries, and brace ourselves for the inevitable battles we will wage throughout the next administration, let’s also remember the women who came before us, and feel empowered by their lasting work.
Here is a majestic choral and orchestra version of the March of the Women
And here is a solo voice (plus accompaniment) version from “Shoulder to Shoulder.”
Should you wish to see more of the 1974 “Shoulder to Shoulder” series, this page has some clips and links to one full episode.