I sat here like, five different times to write down my reasons for participating in the Women’s March in London on 21 January, but each draft was extremely ranty and over 2,000 words (curse me for being loquacious). Basically, I’m a female minority floating around in the middle class with more student loan debt than I could ever begin to wrap my head around, so those identifiers alone could fill a bookshelf on reasons why I personally needed to make my voice heard. That being said, you don’t need to fall into any of those categories or know a single person who does to understand that we all need basic human rights and that the new administration has threatened those rights numerous times.
I marched with four of my classmates and honestly, it was incredible to see these four strong, smart women from different backgrounds be excited to participate in a march thousands of miles away from our country. It’s been weird living in London while all of this political turmoil has been happening and tbh, I’ve felt extremely isolated, despite the fact that I watched the election for 12 hours with all my friends. Attending the march not only renewed my hope that there are others out there who are just as confused about the results as I am and who want to make the world a better place, it showed me that I’m fortunate enough to have friends and live in a city where tolerance, knowledge, activism and love trump hate.
I went to Grovesnor’s Square (starting point of the protest, in front of the US Embassy) with one classmate and the other three were to meet up with us later (they miraculously found us in the large crowd with zero cell phone reception). Since we arrived early, we walked around and saw what the booths were all about and had a good time reading all the signs. Just when we thought we had seen the best sign, we would turn around and find a better one. Once we started, we were surrounded by chants and dogs, babies, men, women, members of the LGBQT+ community and thier allies, people of all religious backgrounds, Brits, Europeans and a few Americans. Everyone was out for so many different reasons, but the unifying factor was that we were all against the new president and his administration and we wanted to ensure he knew that from day one.
After about two hours, we ended the march in Trafalgar Square, where fellow protestors had already packed the tourist destination more than usual. Once we snaked through the crowds, we found ourselves by a DJ and a food cart giving out FREE FOOD with the option to donate, which is honestly so smart and also extremely unexpected. Once at Trafalgar, the march turned into one massive party and it was quite funny because all you would see were signs bopping up and down along to the surrounding beats. We left after half an hour because we were hungry and when I later saw the coverage from all the marches that day, I was totally inspired and in awe that so many people turned out all over the world. MILLIONS of people marched on EVERY SINGLE CONTINENT.
Marches and protests haven’t slowed down since that day, with new ones cropping up within hours of any mention of the president tampering with our rights. They happen in the streets, at airports, in front of policymakers’ houses, outside the White House, in front of the Houses of Parliament and online. To protest or march is to let your voice be heard and when I see the images and rallying cries of organisers, I can’t help but feel proud that so many people around the world care enough to take a few hours out of their day to engage, and this is happening almost on a daily basis. None of these marches have been exclusive to protesting one specific thing; the women’s march was about more than reproductive rights and gender discrimination, just like the immigration ban protests didn’t exclusively focus on refugees. This activism is about uniting and letting minorities and people from all backgrounds know that they are not alone, that someone out there is fighting for them and that the views of one older white man with too much money are not the right views. I am priveleged in many ways and I know this, so while I marched for myself and those I love, I mostly marched for those who couldn’t, for those without the opportunity to do so freely, for those who are scared about birth control and sexual health, for those who don’t know if they can safely visit their families, for those whose grandparents fled danger, for those who want the freedom to love the person their heart chooses to love, for those who worry about paying off debts and feeding their families. I marched because I know this is bigger than me, and I am so glad that millions of others feel the same way.