BOSTON, MA. – On January 19th, an estimated 175,000 people rallied in Boston Common as a part of the national effort to raise awareness about women’s rights. Within the crowd of protesters were teenagers voicing their support.
Isabella Brooke, an 11th grader at the Beaver Country Day School was one of these teens. Brooke recited a poem on the Women’s March stage on behalf of the YW In It teen fellows, a group of high schoolers who spend 10 months over the summer and during the school year learning about social justice and leadership.
Brooke chanted, “No one is free when some are oppressed. March like a girl and fight for the rest,” alongside fellow YW In It teen Ikraam Mohamud and Miranda Graves.
“It didn’t sink in until I stepped onstage and saw all the people,” Brooke said. “It was very surreal.”
“I always thought I wouldn’t be able to get involved in any deeper level but YW In It has allowed me to which I am so thankful for,” Brooke explained. “We were also one of the only youth groups [speaking at the march]. It is very inspiring to know that we were representing teenagers who were not represented elsewhere.”
Brooke dreams of eventually becoming a human rights lawyer and continuing to fight for civil liberties, “My whole passion is student activism, it is what I want to do with my life,” Brooke continued. “Committing yourself to stand up for what is right is so important even when it can be scary.”
Among the protesters, were high schoolers Lola Basiliere (16), Emma Koskovich (17), and Ellen Kiernan (17), all students at Natick Public Schools.
“[Teenagers] are growing up in this era where they are watching all of these politics change and all of the negative effects of our current president,” Kiernan stated. “It is inspiring us more and more to get involved and take action.”
Koskovich added, “I think we also have the energy and mobility to participate in these marches and that helps us to be part of this movement. For that reason, it is very important for us to build a foundation now… so that when we do hit the workforce we don’t need to deal with inequality.”
Basiliere stated how more and more teenagers are utilizing social media to spark change and raise awareness about women’s rights. All three teenagers, Kiernan, Basiliere, and Koskovich, learned about the march through social media. According to data collected by Pew Research Center, 72% of US teens use Instagram and 95% have access to smartphones, making them likely participants in these marches.
The Boston Women’s March continued amidst accusations of anti-semitism and mismanagement against Women’s March Inc, the national advocacy organization behind the 2017 March on Washington. The Boston Women’s March however is independently run and not affiliated with the national movement.
Allison Bicker (19), a freshman at Northeastern University, said she attended the march to protest anti-semitism. Bicker held a poster that read, “I’m Queer and I’m here even if Y’all are anti-semitic.”
“As a Jew, I wanted to make sure that I let it be known that Jews are important, and other marginalized groups like the black community and the Latin-X community are too,” Bicker expressed.
Laura Berberi, a Sophomore at Boston Latin explained how the Women’s March provides teenagers like her with an opportunity to voice their thoughts, outside of the school classroom.
“A lot of people don’t take [teenagers] seriously,” Berberi stated. “People mostly listen to adults and men.”
However, Berberi didn’t let her age define her, instead she felt empowered to voice her thoughts, “I want to speak more about [women’s rights]. If teenagers were to talk about these issues more, more could be changed.”
Hannah Pavel, a student at Boston Latin, marched alongside Berberi and both encouraged their fellow teenagers to keep trying, “If you really want something whether it be a job or a position, keep trying your best regardless of not having equal rights,” Pavel concluded.
Teenagers make up 13.2% of the United States population, and as they transition to adulthood, their thoughts and feelings will have profound impacts on the world.
“We are the next generation!” Vivian Van Stolk, a freshman at the Beaver Country Day School said while marching. “We have the power to change things in the future!”