On the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, there were marches across the world called the Women’s March.
Planned Parenthood and the Natural Resources Defense Council were the two main sponsors, though many other organizations—from the AFL-CIO (a major labor union), the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Sierra Club, and the Transgender Law Center also sponsored the event.
Though there was a main march in Washington D.C., there were 673 “sister marches” around the world the same day.
Hayley Krieger, Meghana Bharadwaj and Laura Wagner were three participants in these marches, and they participated in marches in San Francisco, Saint Louis, and Washington D.C., respectively.
Bharadwaj describes the march as “the epitome of peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.”
A common theme amongst the marches was the unexpectedly large turnout. Of course, crowds are difficult to estimate, but at the time of press, 4,694,500 marchers worldwide are recorded by the official website. (The organizers are still searching for a more accurate count, though).
The marchers also represent a diverse group of people. Bharadwaj noted that “There was a grandma who has seven generations of family after her here and she was marching along with the rest of us… I think that’s one of the beautiful things about it– people from so many different classes, races, ages, genders, and sexualities came!”
Many marches featured famous speakers. Alicia Keys, Madonna and Scarlett Johansson attended the Washington D.C. march; Miley Cyrus, Natalie Portman and Barbara Streisand spoke at the Los Angeles March.
Wagner commented that “It was amazing hearing from [Sentor] Kamala Harris because she represents the silver lining of this election, and I was so proud that [Representative] Lisa Blunt Rochester was up there.”
Marchers were motivated to protest for a variety of reasons. Though the march’s official vision states that they “stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families,” others had more specific motivations.
Wagner writes “the moment I decided to go is when I saw an article about Paul Ryan expressing that he was emboldened to defund Planned Parenthood. I saw the article and I thought, ‘Wow, I need to make sure that Paul Ryan, Trump, and every other Republican knows that women’s rights are not up for debate.’”
Kreiger says that “I wanted to go (specifically in San Francisco) because there are so many angry feminists/ social activists that I have never met or interacted with that would make the event really special.”
Bharadwaj took a more general approach, though. She describes: “I attended the march not in protest of Trump… I marched in support of women’s rights, minority rights, LGBTQ rights, and children’s rights (among others of course, but these are very personal and important to me). I marched against sexism, racism, homophobia, ignorance, and hatred. I think there’s a misconception that everyone there is protesting Trump. Many did, but I would’ve attended the march whether Hillary won or Trump won: supporting these various rights isn’t dependent on who wins the presidency.”
Of the participants I interviewed, many left feeling happy and optimistic. Bharadwaj describes a particularly fun moment when she “was holding my black lives matter sign, and an African-American family was waiting at the stoplight for us to cross. The girl in the car rolled down her window, honked and pointed at me and said ‘look, there are our people here! I love that! I love it! keep going!’ And I pointed back and gave her a little woo. It just goes to show that people do and have felt alienated and they feel unsupported, and the march was a way for tons of people to come together and understand that people are rooting for them and fighting for them.”
Wagner noticed “how excited everyone was to be there. When I was on the metro it was so crowded, and when it got too full the women who couldn’t get on the train and had to wait for the next one were cheering for us. Women were so supportive that they weren’t even annoyed that they had to wait even longer for the train, we were all just there for each other. And when I got there were some awful counter protesters, but people chanted things like ‘love trumps hate’ over them.’”
Krieger noted that “the march was an empowering group of people, all showing public support towards those threatened by the Trump presidency (women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ+ folk, etc.) It was so amazing to be surrounded by so many others voicing their concerns and taking to the streets.”