On Saturday, women from all over the globe gathered in cities and towns for the Women’s March. While the numbers are still fuzzy, the latest count put the total number of marchers at more than 2 million worldwide.
In Washington, D.C., where an estimated 470,000 protested, the mood was joyful and defiant. It was striking to see not only the overwhelming size of the crowd, but to take in just how many of the faces in it were female. While plenty of men did turn out in solidarity, I personally have never seen so many women—of all races and ages—gathered in one place.
One early critique of the march was that it was unfocused, with no clear agenda. Then, when the organizers released their platform, it was criticized for being too exclusionary. Yet given the massive turnout, the need for the protest was apparently felt by many, many women. So, what was it that propelled them all out into the streets with witty signs and pink pussy hats?
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I asked marchers in D.C. one question: Why are you here today? Here, in their own words, is some of what they told me:
“I just really want to feel respected and safe. I don’t want to grow up in a world where I’m not respected for my gender or race or sexual identity.” —15-year-old Emma Rice of Richmond, Va.
“I feel that women’s rights are human rights. I’m here because I’m a woman and a mother and a daughter. I don’t want the president to fail, but I want my voice to be heard.” —Christina Wisboro, Brooklyn, NY
“I’m here to remind people that we are watching and we are going to hold (President Trump) responsible.” —Sarah White, Dallas, Penn.
“I’m here today to support women, and especially to stop violence against women. It should be the president’s job to be an example of uplifting women—other men will follow his example.” —Queen Dioni, Silver Spring, Md. and originally from Cameroon
“Feminism is really cool and I want to be paid the same and have the same rights as boys.” —Thirteen-year-old Neko Conner, Seattle, Wash.
“It’s really important for me to take action and not just allow this new administration to do whatever it wants.” —Alexis Marvel, Washington, D.C., who arrived at the March very pregnant; her baby is due in nine days.
“It was my little boy’s idea….I’m teaching my son that his vote matters.” —Dalvanie Powell, New York City, NY