With Saturday marking the biggest international march in history: a protest against the now President Donald Trump, 11 women involved explain why they took to the streets...
Words by Rosie Benson
An estimated 100,000 people marched from Grosvenor Square to Trafalgar Square on Saturday, alongside high profile figures like Helen Mirren, Emma Watson and Yvette Cooper. On the other side of the pond, Gloria Steinem co-chaired the Washington march, which featured some inspirational speeches and performances from Alicia Keys, Madonna, America Ferrera and Ashley Judd, to name a few.
This is what the inspirational women involved said about the Women’s March and why they decided to take to the streets on Saturday.
Yvette Cooper, MP
‘We’re marching for equality, we’re marching against hatred, we’re marching against division and we’re marching for our children’s future. And we are marching because when the most powerful man in the world says it’s okay to sexually assault women because you are rich and powerful, we have to stand up and say no way.’
Tanya Moodie, founding member of Women’s Equality Party
‘I marched today because I believe that ending violence against women and girls isn’t radical, it’s common sense. I believe that my body is not up for grabs and having control over my reproductive rights isn’t radical, it’s a basic human right. I march today because I am obstinate, no movement about women’s equality will start without me.’
Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid
‘I’m here marching because misogyny is marching too. Misogyny is on the march, it has marched all the way to the White House and it’s not stopping there. We must stand up for equality, and men and women must fight misogyny together, to keep women safe and for a society built on trust and peace for everyone. I am proud to be marching alongside my two daughters, colleagues at Women’s Aid, and all the survivors of domestic abuse.’
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK
‘When those in powerful positions make derogatory and offensive remarks against certain groups of people – women, refugees, migrants, LGBTI, people with disabilities for example – the message it sends is that discrimination is acceptable. It is not, never has been and never will be. With the divisive politics of the last 12 months on both sides of the Atlantic, it is as important now as ever to come together and send a strong message that we will we not tolerate a rolling back of human rights, and that we will continue to fight for equality until we achieve it.’
‘The women’s marches all around the world on Saturday were an incredibly important moment and show what women can do when we organise and mobilise. I am immensely proud that Amnesty International was part of it. But this is more than a moment. This is a movement, and people of all genders, all ages and all backgrounds are coming together to take action.’
Baroness Goudie, global advocate for women’s rights
‘We were marching to demonstrate our support for women being the news stories, the women whose hopes and dreams are often overshadowed by war and conflict. These marches stand for solidarity – women were marching against terror, hate, exploitation, human trafficking and lack of equal pay.’
Kate Smurthwaite, comedian and feminist activist
‘I’ve brought my megaphone to get my voice heard. I think every woman needs a megaphone. I think every disabled person needs a megaphone, every gay person, every lesbian, every bisexual person, and every trans person. Every person who uses healthcare needs a megaphone, every person who wants the right to get good a good education without paying for it, everyone who wants a health service, a fire service. Everyone who wants soldiers not to be sent off to fight illegal wars, everyone who wants all our basic human rights, right here and in America and all around the world.’
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party
‘Women’s rights, opportunities and protections are under threat as never before from the Trump administration in the US, and Brexit uncertainty in the UK that is stoking a rise in misogyny and racism. I am proud to be among those leading the march as the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, which fights for all women’s rights as a priority. In 2017 we must all unite to protect our rights, protest an environment in which minorities feel threatened, and instead build tolerance and diversity at all levels of society. ‘
Emma McNally, March Organiser, London
‘I think like everybody else I felt utterly overwhelmed each time I watched the news in 2016, and was struggling to find ways to respond. Trump is a tipping point, but he as an individual is just one aspect of a very complex situation. We want to get people out on the streets and in contact with each other. We want to get out of our own echo chambers and open up a conversation.’
Alison Camps, Co-Chair, Pride London
‘Pride in London is the UK’s largest celebration of diversity and inclusivity. We exist to promote equality irrespective of gender, ethnicity, faith, ability or sexuality. We stand alongside the organisers of the Women’s March on London, in solidarity with women everywhere, and in defence of the rights that some would deny us.’
Akeela Ahmed, march speaker & founder of She Speaks We Hear
‘2016 was marked by dog whistle politics, the rise of the Far Right, and an increase in hate crimes against women and minorities. When I speak to everyday grassroots women, they often tell me about fears for their safety and anxieties about what the future holds. I was keen to participate in the Women’s March, so that I could mark the beginning of 2017 with positive action, which would unify and bring people together, irrespective of their background or views. Anyone can join the march in London or one in their own city, or people can support us by donating money or their time and expertise.’
Nimco Ali, founder of Daughters of Eve & campaigner against FGM
‘On the night Trump was elected, many around me were in shock, but I was in pain. Trump, a sexist, becoming the leader of the world’s super power is scary and a wake up call. Those that say it will not be that bad are not women, they are not of colour, or disabled. If we sit back we are allowing them and our rights to be infringed – if not today then tomorrow. That is why I am marching. We have finally had enough. There is more love in the world, and we have finally decided to come together and show it. If you cannot attend, you can show your support on social media, by donating and most importantly by showing kindness to your neighbour.’
To find out more about the Women’s March visit the website here.