One day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States of America, women across the country flew to Washington D.C to protest his first day in office, and much more than that. From his jokes about sexual assault, his views on contraceptive rights and his constant undermining of women in his interviews and interactions, there was a lot to stand against. But no one could predict the sheer volume and intensity of the people who would gather not just in Washington, as it drew in nearly half a million people, and was held across the globe with more than 600 marches held worldwide with a single unified belief: women’s rights are human rights.
The march in Washington started with surprisingly humble beginnings- with an event created by a woman in Hawaii inviting forty of her friends. As more people invited others, it was found by a pro-Hilary Facebook page and snowballed into an event that had three times as many attendees as the Presidential election. Among the core values of the protest included advocating reproductive rights, condemnation of sexual violence and religious discrimination, as well as call for immigration reform, healthcare reform, LGBTQ rights, and including environmental issues. As Christina Cauterucci writes for Slate, ‘Organizers have laid out an unapologetically radical, progressive vision for justice in America, placing the march in the context of other past and ongoing movements for equality’.
In London, an estimated 100,000 people marched through Grosvenor Square to protest Trump’s inauguration. Speakers at the event included Rebecca Hall, Kate Allen, Yvette Cooper and many more. ‘I hope it raises consciousness, it gives chance for people to be together and discuss what’s going on’, one protester said at the rally. Indeed, the importance of protesting a local event worldwide may seem counterintuitive, but the central issues being fought against are problems everywhere, and the opportunity for community and solidarity was taken by many and shone hope on an otherwise bleak set of weeks.
The events that took place tell us something very important about the persistence and power of human spirit. Since the march, organizers have released the 10 Actions initiative, a list of ten actions to be taken over the next 100 days to take action against injustice. In London this month, organizers are encouraging making March 8th 'A Day Without Women', in order to recognize and protest the wage gap. There are three ways they suggest supporting the cause: taking the day off work, refrain shopping from businesses that aren't owned by women, and wearing red in solidarity with the cause.
If you’re a student seeking to get involved in positive action, remember that change starts with yourself. Talk to the Union if you see an opportunity for positive change, or join Brunel’s own Intersectional Feminist Society to meet likeminded people who you can rally with. As Theodore Parker once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’- while this may true, we can do everything in our power to get this justice as fast as possible.