Over 600 sister marches held in major US and world cities
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, January 21, 2017 – A day after President Donald Trump’s ceremonial Inauguration, scores of women took to the streets of the nation’s capital to protest against his populist rhetoric and planned policies.
Titled the ‘Women’s March on Washington’, it turned out to be much more than that: a global movement with over 600 rallies held in major US and world cities – New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, London, Berlin, Sydney, Cape Town, to name just a few. Here, in Washington, far more people, mostly women donning pink hats, attended the March compared to the Inauguration.
The movement was multi-generational and it cut across gender, race, color and creed. It was not just women’s rights at stake! The March was about human rights, civil rights, the rights of immigrants, of minorities, of the LGBTQ community. And it was about issues including healthcare, climate change, equality and social justice.
As President Trump attended an interfaith service at the National Cathedral nearby on his first full day in office, women continued to join the massive rally on the National Mall. By mid afternoon, event organizers estimated that over 500,000 people had descended on the city, more than double the number which they were expecting. It was unprecedented, unlike any other clarion call. A pivotal moment in American history!
The event’s honorary chair Gloria Steinem, 82, gushed, “This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life”.
Senator Kamala Harris of California, the only Indian-American ever elected to the upper chamber of the US Congress, said that she’s “excited to join this movement”, underscoring, “We, the people, have the power”.
She told the sea of pink in Washington, “Let’s make today a beginning”. A strong and forceful voice on Capitol Hill, she declared, “We, as women together, are powerful and we are a force that cannot be dismissed or written off into the sidelines”.
At the same time, Senator Harris warned, “Let’s buckle in because it’s going to be a bumpy ride”.
She challenged Republican lawmakers who, she said, “are trying to revert back to the 1950s. You want to talk about women’s issues?”, she asked. “That’s fantastic. Let’s talk about healthcare, education, climate change and more”, she said.
A day earlier, on Inauguration Day, Senator Harris noted, “America was founded in 1776 on the ideals that we are and should be treated as equals. In 2017, that promise still is unfulfilled”, she lamented. “That is why I’m marching”, she said, about her participation in the Women’s March on Washington.
“I am marching for women of color who are marginalized across the country, especially at the ballot box. I am marching for the women who aren’t paid the same as men. I am marching for the women who are under attack by politicians trying to eliminate their right to choose and limit their access to comprehensive reproductive health-care. I am marching for women who can’t speak up when they are sexually assaulted. I am marching for our immigrant and LGBTQ communities who are still not treated equally under the law. I am marching for the women that came before us and the women that follow in our footsteps”.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (Democrat – Washington), the first-ever Indian-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives, noted that thousands of “fierce protectors of our rights” turned up at the march in DC “and millions joined in solidarity across the globe. We come strong in love and fierce for justice”, she said.
The lawmaker believed the Women’s March is “a powerful reminder that our nation’s strength doesn’t depend on who’s in the Oval Office. It lies with We, the People”.
Addressing a crowd of about 250,000 people at the sister march in Chicago, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat – Illinois) urged women and all Americans to stand up and fight for their rights.
The Indian-American lawmaker, one of four serving in the US House of Representatives, noted, “Today’s march was about people from every walk of life coming together to declare their support for the rights of women and all Americans. Women’s rights are human rights. A loud chorus of voices including mine will speak up for the rights of women and all Americans to make a better life in this country. I’m proud to be here today and to continue this fight in Congress”, he said.
Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump in November, took to social media giant Twitter to convey her support for the monumental movement. “Thanks for standing, speaking and marching for our values at the Women’s March. Important as ever. I truly believe we’re always Stronger Together”, she tweeted, referring to her campaign slogan.
Holding a placard which read, ‘Black lives matter’ and ‘I’m still with her’ (Hillary Clinton), Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller (Democrat – District 15) told us, “Today, I was proud to join in solidarity with the half million committed women and men who took part in the Women’s March to stand up for the values of justice for all people. It was a remarkable experience, one I will never forget, and a cause I will fight for the rest of my life”.
Actress and activist America Ferrera set the tone for the movement when she said, “We march today for the moral core of this nation against which our new president is waging a war”.
Ferrera bemoaned, “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America”, she underscored. “We are America and we are here to stay”.