Youth Voices Surface at Women’s March

The ultimate legacy of the Women's March could be the messages it transmits to young girls.

Nyla Burke sits on the shoulders of William Burke at the Women’s March in San Francisco on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Photo by Ida Mojadad)

As the Women’s March translates into an unprecedented number of female candidates for elected office, younger generations could feel the impact for years to come.

An estimated 65,000 people attended the San Francisco Women’s March on Saturday and the presence of young folks was unmistakable. Issues like immigration, police brutality, the travel ban and homelessness brought women and their allies together.

“I think it’s really important that we all come together and say we’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” says Leila Shahidi, an LGBT 14-year-old of Iranian heritage. “You may try to get rid of us, you may try to stomp our voices out but no matter what we’re still going to be here.”

Shahidi and her friends came from Mountain View and Los Altos to display signs like “Sexual abusers belong in jail, not in office” and “Gays against Trump.” Another one belonging to 14-year-old Izzi Boustead read “Who needs gender roles when you have sushi rolls.”

“I spend a lot of time being angry at gender,” Boustead says. “I think it’s really important that people don’t stick to what people tell them is the right thing to be.”

Some also felt they should come to lend a voice to those who either physically can’t be there, or whose stories have been ignored. 

“It’s my duty to speak up for the people who can’t — the people who have been silenced,” says 14-year-old Lia Tsur, who held a sign echoing the Time’s Up movement. “It’s my job as someone who hasn’t been [silenced] to advocate for them.”

Students from the all-girls Hamlin School in Pacific Heights came as a contingent encouraged to come by their head of school Wanda Holland Greene.

“I think our president doesn’t respect women,” says Abby Pasternack, 15. “It’s very important that young girls hear that they’re worth it.”

They already have. Nyla Burke, 8, wants to be president to “make the world a better place,” with actions like giving homes to those who lack one.

Burke, who says she looks up to former President Barack Obama, held a sign like other young girls around the country that read “I can be president.”

And there lies the simple, powerful sentiment that younger generations hear as a battle cry.

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