The Women's March was a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers' rights. Most of the rallies were aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, largely due to statements that he had made and positions that he had taken which were regarded by many as anti-women or otherwise offensive. It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.
The first planned protest was in Washington, D.C., and is known as the Women's March on Washington. According to organizers it was meant to "send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights". The Washington March was streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
The Washington March drew 440,000 to 500,000 people, and worldwide participation has been estimated at five million. At least 408 marches were reported to have been planned in the U.S. and 168 in 81 other countries. After the marches, officials who organized them reported that 673 marches took place worldwide, on all seven continents, including 29 in Canada, 20 in Mexico, and one in Antarctica. In Washington D.C. alone, the protests were the largest political demonstrations since the anti–Vietnam War protests in the 1960s and 1970s, with both protests drawing in similar numbers. The Women's March crowds were peaceful, and no arrests were made in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle, where an estimated combined total of two million people marched.
Following the march, the organizers of the Women's March on Washington posted the "10 Actions for the first 100 Days" campaign for joint activism to keep up the momentum from the march.
On November 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, in reaction to Trump's election campaign and political views, Teresa Shook of Hawaii created a Facebook event and invited friends to march on Washington in protest. Similar Facebook pages created by Evvie Harmon, Fontaine Pearson, Bob Bland (a New York fashion designer), Breanne Butler, and others quickly led to thousands of women signing up to march. Harmon, Pearson, and Butler decided to unite their efforts and consolidate their pages, beginning the official Women's March on Washington. To ensure that the march was led by women of differing races and backgrounds, Vanessa Wruble, co-founder, and Head of Campaign Operations brought on Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour to serve as National Co-Chairs alongside Bland. Former Miss New Jersey USA Janaye Ingram served as Head of Logistics.
Organizers claimed that they were "not targeting Trump specifically" and that the event was "more about being proactive about women's rights". Sarsour called it "a stand on social justice and human rights issues ranging from race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigration and healthcare". Still, opposition to and defiance of Trump infused the protests, which were sometimes directly called anti-Trump protests.
The four co-chairs were Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; Tamika Mallory, a political organizer and former executive director of the National Action Network; Carmen Perez, an executive director of the political action group The Gathering for Justice; and Bob Bland, a fashion designer who focuses on ethical manufacturing. Vanessa Wruble, co-founder, and co-president of Okayafrica served as Head of Campaign Operations. Gloria Steinem, Harry Belafonte, LaDonna Harris, Angela Davis and Dolores Huerta served as honorary co-chairs.
Planned Parenthood partnered with the march by providing staff and offering knowledge related to planning a large-scale event. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards asserted that the march would "send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive healthcare, abortion services and access to Planned Parenthood, [which] hopes that [in the future] many of the protesters will mobilize in its defense when Trump and congressional Republicans make their attempt to strip the organization of millions in federal funding". The national organizing director stressed the importance of continuing action at a local level and remaining active after the event.
Seven women coordinated marches outside the U.S. The women were: Brit-Agnes Svaeri, Oslo, Norway; Marissa McTasney, Toronto, Canada; Karen Olson, Geneva, Switzerland; Kerry Haggerty, London, United Kingdom; Rebecca Turnbow, Sydney, Australia; and Breanne Butler and Evvie Harmon in the United States. The women organized the international marches through social media and had weekly Skype meetings to plot strategy.
On January 12, the march organizers released a policy platform addressing reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious discrimination (primarily that against Muslim Americans), LGBTQ rights, gender and racial inequities (primarily those that favor men and Non-Hispanic whites, respectively), workers' rights, and other issues. "Build bridges, not walls" (a reference to Trump's proposals for a border wall) became popular worldwide after the Trump's inaugural address, and was a common refrain throughout the march.
The organizers also addressed environmental issues: "We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water, clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate must be protected and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed—especially at the risk of public safety and health."
Wruble renamed the event, which had originally been billed as the "Million Women March", after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the historic civil rights rally on the Mall where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The rally also paid tribute to the 1997 Million Woman March in Philadelphia, in which hundreds of thousands of African American women are said to have participated.
Because of scheduling conflicts at the Lincoln Memorial, a permit was secured on December 9 to start the march on Independence Avenue at the southwest corner of the Capitol building and continue along the National Mall.
By January 20, 2017, 222,000 people had RSVP'd as going to the Washington, D.C., march and 251,000 had indicated interest. On January 16, 2017, Fox News reported that authorities were expecting "a crowd of almost 500,000 people", and the permit for the march issued by the National Park Service was revised by the head of D.C.'s Homeland Security department to half a million people—significantly more than the estimated attendance at President Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony the previous day.
In late December, organizers announced that over 100 organizations would provide assistance during the march and support the event across their social media platforms. By January 18, more than 400 organizations were listed as "partners" on the March's official website.
Planned Parenthood (which has received federal funding since 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed into law the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act) and the Natural Resources Defense Council were listed as the two "premier partners". Other organizations listed as partners included the AFL–CIO, Amnesty International USA, the Mothers of the Movement, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Organization for Women, MoveOn.org, Human Rights Watch, Code Pink, Black Girls Rock!, the NAACP, the American Indian Movement, Emily's List, Oxfam, Greenpeace USA, and the League of Women Voters.
On January 13, event organizers granted the anti-abortion feminist group New Wave Feminists partnership status. But after the organization's involvement was publicized in The Atlantic, it was removed from the partners page on the march's website. Other anti-abortion groups that had been granted partnership status, including Abby Johnson's And Then There Were None (ATTWN) and Stanton Healthcare, were subsequently unlisted as partners as well. New Wave Feminists still took part in the official march, alongside other anti-abortion groups such as ATTWN, Students for Life of America, and Life Matters Journal.
Speaking on January 20, Naomi Klein said, "it is significant that it seems that Donald Trump is going after programs for violence against women." She stated she believes that it is important for people to demonstrate their concern about the new administration's "drive to denigrate women." She also said that it was important that the women who organized the march included a large number of women of color.
While organizers had originally expected over 200,000 people, the march ended up drawing between 440,000 to 500,000 in Washington D.C. The Washington Metro system had its second-busiest day ever with over a million trips taken, considerably larger than the inauguration day's ridership and second only to the first inauguration of Barack Obama. The New York Times reported that crowd-scientists estimate that the Women's March was three times the size of the Trump inauguration, which they estimate at 160,000 attendees. However, The Washington Post and The New York Times have stated that it is difficult to accurately calculate crowd size and other estimates of the Trump inauguration range from 250,000 to 600,000 people.
An estimated 3,300,000 – 4,600,000 people participated in the United States and up to 5 million did worldwide.
The official list of speakers included Gloria Steinem, America Ferrera and Scarlett Johansson. Others speakers were Sophie Cruz, Angela Davis, and Michael Moore, as well as Cecile Richards, Ilyasah Shabazz, Janet Mock, LaDonna Harris, Janelle Monáe, Maryum Ali, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Sister Simone Campbell, Ashley Judd, Melissa Harris-Perry, Randi Weingarten, Van Jones, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Roslyn Brock, Muriel Bowser, Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, Donna Hylton and Ai-jen Poo.
Steinem commented "Our constitution does not begin with 'I, the President.' It begins with, 'We, the People.' I am proud to be one of thousands who have come to Washington to make clear that we will keep working for a democracy in which we are linked as human beings, not ranked by race or gender or class or any other label."
Ferrera stated, "If we – the millions of Americans who believe in common decency, in the greater good, in justice for all – if we fall into the trap by separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose. But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance of saving the soul of our country."
Johansson called for long-term change: "Once the heaviness [of the election] began to subside, an opportunity has presented itself to make real long-term change, not just for future Americans, but in the way we view our responsibility to get involved with and stay active in our communities. Let this weight not drag you down, but help to get your heels stuck in."
The youngest presenter at the Washington D.C. march, 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, said, "Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed," and ended her speech saying, "I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love. Let's keep together and fight for the rights. God is with us." Cruz repeated her speech in Spanish.
Alicia Keys performed at the rally saying, "We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise." Angela Davis said, "We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages." Maryum Ali also spoke, saying, "Don't get frustrated, get involved. Don't complain, organize."
Across the United States, there were a total of 408 planned marches.
Marches occurred worldwide, with 198 in 84 other countries. Organisers of the event reported 673 marches worldwide, including 20 in Mexico and 29 in Canada. Women in India also organized a nation-wide march on January 21, 2017 called I Will Go Out to demand women's right to safe public spaces.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson attended the Washington march. Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of New America and former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, attended the New York City march. John Lewis attended the Atlanta rally, which saw more than 60,000 march to the Georgia State Capitol.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont delivered a speech at the march in Montpelier in front of the Vermont State House, as did other Vermont political figures, such as former Governor Madeleine Kunin and current Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman.
Celebrities who participated in marches across the United States or around the world included:
The Pussyhat Project was a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman of Los Angeles to create pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact. In response to this call, crafters all over the US began making these hats using patterns provided on the project website for use with either a knitting method, crocheting and even sewing with fabrics. The project's goal was to have one million hats handed out at the Washington March. The hats are made using pink yarns or fabrics and were originally designed to be a positive form of protest for Trump's inauguration by Krista Suh. Suh, from Los Angeles, wanted a hat for the cooler climate in Washington, D. C. and made herself a hat for the protest, realizing the potential: "we could all wear them, make a unified statement". One of the project founders, Jayna Zweiman, stated "I think it's resonating a lot because we're really saying that no matter who you are or where you are, you can be politically active." Suh and Zwieman worked with the owner of a local knitting supply shop called The Little Knittery to come up with the original design. The project launched in November 2016 and quickly became popular on social media with over 100,000 downloads of the pattern to make the hat.
The name refers to the resemblance of the top corners of the hats to cat ears and attempts to reclaim the derogatory term "pussy", a play on Trump's widely reported 2005 remarks that women would let him "grab them by the pussy". Many of the hats worn by marchers in Washington, D.C., were created by crafters who were unable to attend and wished them to be worn by those who could, to represent their presence. Those hats optionally contained notes from the crafters to the wearers, expressing support. They were distributed by the crafters themselves, by yarn stores at the points of origin, carried to the event by marchers, and also distributed at the destination. The production of the hats caused reported shortages of pink knitting yarn across the United States. On the day of the march, NPR compared the hats to the "Make America Great Again" hats worn by Trump supporters, in that both represented groups that had at one point been politically marginalized; both sent "simultaneously unifying and antagonistic" messages; and both were simple in their messages. Pussyhats were featured months later on the fashion runway.
In Los Angeles, the voice actor Amir Talai was carrying the sign "I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next #blacklivesmatter march right?" to express frustration at the lack of participation by white Americans in the Black Lives Matter movement, and simultaneously hopeful of encouraging them to do so. The photo of Talai with the sign went viral over the internet.
While the march aims to create a social movement, Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University's Center for Social Justice commented that its success will depend on the marchers' ability to maintain momentum in the following weeks. "One of the goals of any type of march or any type of visible sign of solidarity is to get inspired, to inspire people to do more. And the question is, at the march, what kind of organizational structures or movements will also be present to help people know how to channel their energy for the next day and for the long haul?" Historian Michael Kazin also commented on the importance of a long-term strategy: "All successful movements in American history have both inside and outside strategy. If you're just protesting, and it just stops there, you're not going to get anything done."
In the aftermath of the protest, museum curators around the world sought to gather signs and other cultural artifacts of the marches.
On January 4, 2017, columnist Shikha Dalmia called the protest "a feel-good exercise in search of a cause“.
The New York Post Editorial Board asked if the event might be "cursed", writing, "The three white feminists who thought up the idea felt obliged to change that title after they faced charges of 'cultural appropriation'".
Us Magazine noted social media posts and a Change.org petition criticizing the march for having left Hillary Clinton's name off a list of 27 honorees who "paved the way" for equal rights.
The organizers' decision to make Angela Davis a featured speaker was criticized from the right by Humberto Fontova and National Review. Libertarian journalist Cathy Young wrote that Davis's "long record of support for political violence in the United States and the worst of human rights abusers abroad" undermined the march.
Many members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that they would not attend Trump's inauguration ceremony, with the numbers growing after he made disparaging remarks about veteran House member and civil rights leader John Lewis. Some of them said they would attend the Women's March.
Maine Representative Chellie Pingree said she would instead visit a Planned Parenthood center and a business owned by immigrants on Inauguration Day before going to Washington to appear on stage with other politicians who refused to attend. "We need to do everything we can to let the incoming administration know we are not happy about their agenda. I've had unprecedented numbers of my constituents calling me worried about healthcare, the environment, public education, and they feel disrespected," she said.
On January 22, 2017, Trump wrote on his Twitter personal account: "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly." Two hours later, he sent a more placatory tweet: "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views." A White House official criticized the March for not welcoming abortion rights opponents, and then criticized Madonna's comment that she "thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House".
Senator Bernie Sanders, who attended the March in Montpelier, Vermont, said Trump should listen to the protesters: "Listen to the needs of women. Listen to the needs of the immigrant community. Listen to the needs of workers. Listen to what's going on with regards to climate change ... Modify your positions. Let's work together to try to save this planet and protect the middle class." Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, offered her support on Twitter, called the march "awe-inspiring" and stated, "[I] hope it brought joy to others as it did to me".
Following a tweet that offended other lawmakers and the public, Bill Kintner resigned from his position as Nebraska State Senator.
Apart from the celebrities present at the march, others such as Beyoncé Knowles and Bruce Springsteen made statements of support for it. The latter, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and was a friend to Barack Obama, gave a speech during a concert in Australia, saying, "The E Street Band is glad to be here in Western Australia. But we're a long way from home, and our hearts and spirits are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday in every city in America and in Melbourne who rallied against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, healthcare, and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance."
Cyndi Lauper commented on Madonna's controversial speech at the Washington march, saying, “Anger is not better than clarity and humanity. That is what opens people's minds. When you want to change people's mind, you have to share your real story.”
Jon Voight called the march "destructive" and said it was "against the president and against the government". He was particularly critical of Shia LaBeouf and march participant Miley Cyrus, saying "they have a lot of followers" and felt their stances were "teaching treason".
Piers Morgan, a friend of Trump's, stated the march was a reaction by women that "a man won" and that "At its core, it was about Trump-hating and resentment that he won and Hillary lost". He also felt that it was democratic to protest, but not due to the result of a democratic election. In response to Morgan's comments about the march, Ewan McGregor canceled his appearance on Good Morning Britain, which Morgan was hosting.
Following the march, the organizers of the Women's March on Washington posted the "10 Actions for the first 100 Days" campaign to keep up the momentum from the march. The first action includes contacting senators about concerns, with an option of using "Hear Our Voice" postcards. A new action will be provided every 10 days.
Filmmaker Michael Moore has called for 100 days of resistance, for Trump's first 100 days of his presidency.
The 2017 Women's Marches took place in many cities around the world since January 21, 2017.
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