The Cable

The Women’s March Heard Round the World

A round-up of marches and reactions from Women’s March events around the world.

women

Women marched in Washington, D.C. And New York. And Boston. And Austin. And Boise. And Minneapolis. And London. And Berlin. And Melbourne. And Nairobi. And Antarctica.

The Women’s March on Saturday began as a small protest organized on Facebook, scheduled, not coincidentally, for the day after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. It grew into a day long international event both in support of women and in opposition to the president’s past rhetoric and potential future policies. There were more than 600 events in 60 countries around the world, with millions taking to the streets.

In Washington, where organizers and local officials estimated there were 500,000 in attendance, women and men had their own reasons for marching (or, rather, rallying for hours and then taking to the streets — there were too many in attendance to use the pre-planned route).

Trump’s inauguration on Friday drew crowds of about 250,000 — a smaller number than at inaugurations past. Trump, however, told CIA employees at the intelligence agency headquarters on Saturday that the media was lying about the numbers and he thought there were “like a million, million and a half people.”

And so it was important, to some participants, to show that the Women’s March could bring people out. Margaret of Winston Salem, N.C. flew up “to be counted,” although she did not believe that the march was against anything. “It’s about healing,” she told Foreign Policy. But chants of “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” suggested many felt otherwise.

Blanca, who is from California but has lived in Washington, D.C. for the past six years, began to cry as she explained that she came out “because I have a daughter” with whom she wanted to show Trump that even though he is indeed the “president” (air quotes by Blanca), “we don’t support what he’s doing.” Her daughter was holding a Trump puppet sporting a Russian flag pin. She made it herself.

Mary and Donna took a bus down from Syracuse, N.Y., out of “patriotism.” White women held up signs to show they marched because “Black Lives Matter.” A man held up a poster explaining that he came out because “family planning saves lives worldwide.” In a sea of pink, cat-eared knit caps (a reference to the president’s leaked comment that women let famous men “grab ‘em by the pussy”) and “Nasty Women” posters (a reference to the term the president used to insult Hillary Clinton in a debate), people came out, it seemed, first and foremost to support one another. Even John Kerry, a day after his job as secretary of state ended, was spotted marching in the streets of Washington with his dog, Ben.

Sergio, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, told FP he saw the march in Washington as the next step of civic duty after his military service. “I’m really worried about where the country is headed,” he said. “I served in the military, now I serve as a citizen.” Sergio, who was born in Peru but spent most of his life in the United States, said many of his friend and family who are Hispanic immigrants felt scared, which drove him to march.

But they were not the only ones out.

In London, 100,000 reportedly came to protest. Ana, an American in her 20s who lives in London, told FP, “I went to it because I didn’t know how else I could process the new administration. And it felt incredibly empowering and reassuring to see so many individuals unite under a message of inclusivity, progress, and love.”

Helene, originally from Denmark, said that she went to the London Women’s March “to stand in solidarity with the people marching on Washington and everywhere else to protest the hatred, racism, divisiveness, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, and ignorance that President Trump has made clear he stands for.” She added that the London march was “peaceful and supportive throughout and brought London to a standstill.”

For Erin, a Canadian living in Britain, the best point in the parade came about two-thirds of the way to Trafalgar Square.

“A guy on a cycle cart had set up a DJ booth with loudspeakers, and the whole crowd started dancing … it is difficult to get sober white British people to dance in the streets. And here we all were.”

And they were elsewhere, too. In Berlin, they stood before the Brandenburg Gate.

In Paris, before the Eiffel Tower.

They came out in Nairobi.

And in Accra.

In Antarctica, they even gave a whole new meaning to march of the penguins.

Of course, it’s not clear what will follow from the Women’s March. Though politicians — notably Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered impassioned speeches, the reality remains that Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress, and will, in the coming weeks, name Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court replacement.

There’s also the difficulty of turning a moment into a movement. How, for example, to square the Women’s March with the 53 percent of white women voters who turned out for Trump? Or with the anti-abortion organization that was dropped from the Women’s March program? Or with the persistent failure of many mainstream, western feminist movements to represent all women, and not just white women?

Micah, a young woman clad in a pink, cat-eared cap and a shirt that read, “I met God. She’s black,” came out in part to answer that last question. She and her friends went to the Women’s March in Washington, she said, because she thought it important that different types of women be represented. The feminist movement hasn’t always been inclusive, she told FP, and she wanted to show that “all women matter — black women matter, Muslim women matter, disabled women matter. And I think we showed that today.” She paused and smiled. “I’m very proud.”

For at least one day, millions around the world felt the same.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy@RobbieGramer

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