One year on, women are back to say #TimesUp (and of course, we brought those famously powerful women’s march signs with us)
By Anna Clarke and Victoria Fell
Foot-stomping, some classic women’s march signs and chants of ‘Time’s up, time’s up!’ rung out in Westminster on Sunday afternoon marking exactly one year since the 2017 Women’s March took to streets around the world in the fight for equality.
The Time’s Up rally, organised by Women’s March London and named after the Hollywood anti-harassment campaign, saw thousands of emboldened protesters pitch up outside Downing Street to stand against the gender pay gap and sexual violence.
‘Look backwards, marching forwards,’ was the sentiment, said Rachel Krengel, one of the event’s organisers.
‘The #MeToo and #TimesUp movement has brought more energy in. It’s to reinvigorate it and to look forward to a whole year of a lot more action.’
Here are our take-homes from the day:
It’s been a landmark year
Many of the attendees at the rally were also at last year’s Women’s March when over 100,000 protestors put two fingers up to Trump’s inauguration.
‘For so many years, we’ve been shamed and silenced and now we’re having a public conversation, it’s pretty incredible,’ said Iona Wainwright, 22, who protested back in 2017.
There were even a few newbie activists who recently found their voice.
‘For so long I was quite shy and I thought I won’t go to a protest, but we went to the free periods protest and it didn’t feel intimating, ‘ said Natalie Byrne, 25
This struggle impacts us all
Sunday’s crowd was made up of a whole mix of faces, with men and women of all ages showing their support to women’s suffrage.
‘What is so unique and so important about this event is that it recognises that not only women suffer inequality, but lots of people suffer different forms of oppression,’ said Caitlin Moore, 17.
‘It means that we’re looking at the whole picture.’
More men need to start talking about harassment
Some attendees said men they know had been taken aback by the recent #MeToo campaigns popping up on their social media feeds.
‘My brother had close friends that came out on Facebook and said #MeToo and he was really surprised. But as women we see things all the time,’ sighed Natalie Byrne, 25.
With others describing how harassment is just isn’t being discussed within all male friendship groups.
Daniel Armstrong, 23, said: ‘With my male friends, I don’t really talk about these issues which I think is part of the problem. When there are women involved in the discussion then we talk about it.’
Same shit, different decade
A rousing speech by Helen Pankhurst, a women’s rights activist and the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst acted as a stark reminder that the quest for equality has been a long time coming.
Christina White, 53, who spent much of the 80s marching against Section 28 and Thatcher said: ‘It’s not just that it’s the same old bullshit, but there is a president of the United States boasting about assaulting women.’
Intergenerational feminism was also a mainstay of the day: Claire and her daughter Rachel had made the journey all the way from Norfolk to protest. Her motivation for coming to the rally was simple: ‘I’ve got three daughters and they should have everything.’
Echoing this sentiment was Alison, who thought it was ‘fantastic’ that her daughter Robin was involved in the feminist cause. She added, ‘We’ve been doing this since the 70s, feminist stuff, and it’s great that a younger generation are taking it on with a real kind of passion, solidarity and energy.’
Sexual persecution comes in many forms
Whether it’s micro-aggressions or the slow attrition of self-confidence, harassment has many different guises.
‘It’s the whole spectrum, so whether that’s catcalling or someone making an inappropriate comment. All the small things add up,’ said Caitlin Moore, 17.
Austerity was top of the agenda
‘Services that we disproportionately use have been cut. We’re the first under the bus,’ said Rachel Krengel, 29.
‘We desperately need a complete turnaround. If we have that, we will be in a much stronger position to fight everything else,’ she added.
Rubbish weather couldn’t dampen the fierce Women’s March signs
The power of democracy prevailed even through the sleet and heavy drizzle, with protesters stood fervently clasping their creatively worded placards.
‘I would much rather be at home in a warm flat, listening to Radio Four. But I’m here standing in the rain for my nieces and for my students,’ laughed Christina White, 53.
Still 50 Years From 50:50?
Frances Scott from the 50:50 Parliament campaign spoke to Marie Claire about the group’s mission to address the overwhelming gender imbalance in Parliament. She said, ‘We’re campaigning for better gender balance at Westminster. At the minute, men outnumber women two to one in the corridors of power and that affects everything about our lives.’
With their #AskHerToStand campaign, 50:50 Parliament are trying to ‘encourage and inspire women’ on the pathway to Parliament. Frances added, ‘Only 12 extra women were elected at the last election and, at this rate, it’s going to take 50 years to get gender equality.’
A culture of silence helps no one
Women are still searching for spaces where they feel safe to discuss issues of harassment and gender.
‘If there were more spaces to talk, you could learn from your peers and older women about what their experiences were. It would have an emboldening effect and help more women speak out,’ explained Caitlin Moore, 17.
Never too young to be a feminist
Reams of teenagers and young children came along with their parents to support the cause, carrying messages of resistance and lots of downright sass.
The battle is far from won
How much has changed for women in the past twelve months, really?
Abortion remains illegal in the Republic of Ireland. One in 10 girls and women between 14 and 21 are living in period poverty, according to Plan International. And FGM is still being carried out in the UK. The time for complacency is over.
“We’re no longer going to shy away and scream in our bedrooms,” said Udy Archibong, Professor of Diversity at the University of Bradford and one of the day’s speakers.
“This is the time for us to scream against oppression. It’s time for us to join our voices together and tell the world that Time’s Up.”