Up to 2 million people have gathered around the world as part of an international day of action in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington following Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
As many as 500,000 people were expected to descend on the US capital on Saturday to promote women’s rights, an anti-Trump gathering that threatens to turn into one of the largest marches in US history.
Although it was not billed specifically as a movement against the new president, most of the causes represented are those deemed under threat from Trump’s administration, including plans to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which among other things requires health insurers to cover birth control.
Demonstrators in DC have been joined by hundreds of thousands of people marching in 161 cities across all seven continents, with focuses than extended beyond Trump.
In the UK, between 80,000 and 100,000 people joined the Women’s March on London, with another 14 marches in towns and cities across Britain including Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Belfast.
Khan said he was proud to march alongside women and men from London and around the world “to show how much we value the rights every woman should have”.
“As a feminist in City Hall I fully support the fight for gender equality. It’s wrong that in 2017 someone’s life chances and fundamental rights are still dependent on their gender,” he said.
In a speech in Trafalgar Square, Cooper, chair of the home affairs select committee, said men and women around the globe were marching against hatred and division and for equality. “We are marching because the most powerful man in the country thinks it’s ok to grab women by the pussy,” she said.
Cooper added, however, that while protesters wanted to take a stand against Trump, millions of Americans voted for him. “Marching isn’t enough – we need to persuade, to win arguments, to challenge the deep causes of division and to build a future in common… For the sake of our children and grandchildren – our daughters and our sons – we are here because we will not let the clock be turned back now.”
“It is important for me to march in solidarity,” actor Rebecca Hall said, adding that Trump’s views and politics were aimed at people she cared about – including women, BMEs, immigrants and the LGBT community. “If that is all true then it is important that we all stand up and be here, together, in solidarity,” she said.
Women’s March Global, the international arm of the Washington march, said they were determined to capitalise on the wave of activism that attracted so many people, including both first-time campaigners as well as seasoned activists.
“The women of the world were sitting on a powder keg and Donald Trump just lit the match,” Evvie Harmon, a Women’s March co-founder and global coordinator, told the Guardian before the march.
The Washington march is expected to be more orderly compared to Friday’s demonstrations in the city, in which more than 200 people were arrested for vandalising shops and cars and clashing with police. The event kicked off at 10am EST with a rally on the corner of 3rd St and Independence Ave and will end at the Washington Monument at around 4pm. Thousands of people streamed into the capital from around the US, many wearing hand-knit pink “pussyhats” and wielding signs with messages such as “The future is female” and “Less fear more love.”
Rena Wilson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she hoped the women could send Trump a message that they’re “not going anywhere.” Joy Rodriguez, of Miami, who arrived with her husband and their two daughters, ages 12 and 10, said: “I want to make sure their rights are not infringed on in these years coming up.”
While Trump struggled to get A-list names to perform at his inauguration celebrations, the Women’s March on Washington has attracted singing and acting stars such as Katy Perry, America Ferrera, who is also speaking at the rally, Orange is the New Black cast member Uzo Aduba, Scarlett Johansson, Cher and the young actor and singer Zendaya.
Other celebrity guests include model Chrissy Teigen, comedians Amy Schumer and Cristela Alonzo, TV host Padma Lakshmi, artist Kara Walker, and actresses Hari Nef, Amandla Stenberg, Frances McDormand, Uzo Aduba and Julianne Moore. The promised performance lineup included Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Samantha Ronson, the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Protesters in Australia and New Zealand were the first to start marching on Saturday. In Sydney, about 3,000 people gathered for a rally in Hyde Park before marching on the US consulate. A further 5,000 people rallied in Melbourne, and 2,000 people gathered across four cities in New Zealand.
In Europe, marches took place in cities including Berlin, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Geneva and Amsterdam. In Africa, hundreds of protesters in Nairobi’s Karura Forest waved placards and sang American protest songs, and in Iraq, a march organiser said women were daring to stand up to challenges including “lack of salaries, terror, hate, exploitation, and trafficking”.
According to a recent poll, Trump had the lowest favourability rating of any incoming president since the 1970s. His attitudes toward women dominated his presidential campaign, particularly after a video revealed him saying he could “do anything” to women, including kiss them and “grab them by the pussy” without permission.
At least 24 women also came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by the businessman and former reality TV star, spanning a period of more than 30 years, allegations which he has consistently denied.
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