This Saturday, 21st January, women all over the world will descend on their city streets and march in their thousands for the first major demonstration of 2017. It comes after a year that saw street protests gain popularity across the world. Here's our pick of the best.
Words by Kaya Windrich
Its little surprise that so many millions across the world are taking to the streets this weekend. 2016 was a great year for protests. All over the world, from Iceland to Argentina, women made their voices heard – and it worked.
In a similar show of solidarity, around 20,000 protesters marched in Dublin, and 20 other cities globally, in September 2016 as part of a campaign to ‘Repeal the 8th’, the amendment of the Irish constitution that forbids abortion. The demonstration gained widespread support and has led to a Civil Assembly to discuss the possibility of repealing the 8th amendment, with backing from the UN.
In September 2016, 200,000 women went on strike in Buenos Aires in protest against violence towards women. Instigated by the violent rape and murder of 16-year-old school girl Lucia Perez, demonstrators left work at 1pm, to march in a country where a woman is killed through domestic violence every 36 hours, and crimes against women have soared by 78 per cent since 2008. Across Argentina and South America, reaching Mexico, El Salvador, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, others matched the march in a show of solidarity against femicide.
Only a week after the marches in Argentina, women in Iceland (considered a leader in gender equality), walked out in protest against the 18 per cent gender pay gap. Leaving work at 2.38pm, (the time they are effectively paid until), thousands of women headed to Austurvollur Square in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik to protest.
The March of Hope, which started as a minor event in Rosh Hanikra, Israel, ended in Jerusalem as a huge rally when thousands of Jewish and Arab women from all over the country, gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in defiance against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The women, wearing white and chanting songs of peace, passed through the West Bank in Jericho on the 14-day trek to Jerusalem. Singer Yael Deckelbaum, who performed at the rally, said, ‘They told me there was nobody to make peace with. Today we proved them wrong.’
In September 2016, thousands of women in Saudi Arabia took their fight for basic freedom directly to the King, when 2,500 protesters bombarded the King’s office demanding an end to the highly restrictive male guardianship system, which requires women to get permission from their husband, father or son for fundamental tasks, such as travelling, accessing healthcare, or marrying. They used the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian to promote the movement on social media, which is gradually gaining momentum, with Saudi royal Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently condemning the country’s law preventing women from driving.
Women of Standing Rock, North Dakota stood at the forefront of demonstrations protesting against the £3 billion pipeline for transporting fracking oil under the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s main water source. Indigenous women were the first to take on bulldozers and rush to lead protests, even when clashing with police, in a fight to protect the water source which is regarded as holy. In December 2016, the army announced it would ‘explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.’
In April 2016, over 1200 people rallied for women’s rights, flooding the south lawn of the Indiana Statehouse. The demonstration was held in response to the introduction of a law that prevents women from seeking an abortion if her fetus is diagnosed with a disability, or has a 0% chance of survival. The law also requires the remains of aborted fetuses to be interred or cremated. Two of the 97 legislators originally in support attended the rally and subsequently withdrew their original support of the law.
On October 3rd 2016, over 60,000 black clad men and women across 60 Polish cities boycotted work, and took to the streets to protest plans to bring in new abortion laws which would take away a woman’s right to choose. After bringing the country to a standstill, the controversial proposal collapsed and politicians were forced to throw out the legislation.
One of the largest movements to come out of the states last year is the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of the eponymous hashtag on social media, started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, after the acquittal of police officer George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Not long after this, the hashtag #SayHerName was launched, to shine a spotlight on state violence against black women, after Sandra Bland died in police custody, and Rekia Boyd was shot by an off-duty police officer. On a day of action for the #SayHerName campaign, women came together in 17 American cities, baring banners in memory of all black women who have been harmed and killed by state violence.
The last year has seen countless women rise up and campaign against injustice. This week women across the globe are preparing to stand in solidarity and march together for equality. Join us at the Women’s March in London this Saturday 21st January. Let’s make history.