Report by Marga RH. Photos by Ivette Hernandez.
Saturday 21 January: On the day following the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new president of the United States, marches were organised both within the US and abroad, convening a gigantic crowd under the heading ‘Women’s March’.
Nearly one hundred thousand people took to the streets in London to show solidarity with the American mobilisations, in rejection not only of Donald Trump, but to what his attitude and political programme represent: The acceptance of shameless misogyny, overt sexism, the glorification of anti-immigrant sentiment and the normalisation of media bullying.
It was surprising and laudable to witness the magnitude of the march. Organised as an inclusive event with a clear call for international solidarity, demonstrators of all ages and racial groups – with quite a few men in it too – filled the streets of London, with calm but not less serious attitude. It was multi-coloured, full of banners, and allowed for that inspiring moment when one cannot see the beginning or the end of the sea of people.
As in any inclusive and non-party event, it was the feeling of repudiation of an idea rather than the convergence over a common strategy to fight it what managed to unify such diverse groups of people, many of whom would not necessarily march shoulder to shoulder in other circumstances. Many protesters did not have the chance to listen to the speeches due to the sheer scale of the march, which overflowed Trafalgar Square in every possible direction.
What may have been lacking, and what we should work on for the next big Women’s March and for future actions, is the parallelism between Trump’s stances and the far-right policies that are rapidly gaining popularity in Europe. While current Prime Minister Theresa May does not hold an overt misogynist attitude like the one Trump does, the government’s stance on the treatment of undocumented migrants and the refugee crisis is worthy of the same level of repudiation that Trump generates when he talks about building walls or prohibiting entry to the country based on personal religion. Migration removal centres, in which hundreds of people await with uncertainty to be recognised as worthy of asylum or to be deported back to their country of origin, often after risking their lives to escape, are a shameful stain of the restrictive migratory system of this country. Hundreds of people waiting in a legal limbo, detained indefinitely just to gain the status of ‘legitimate’ refugee. Let’s not forget the women of Yarl’s Wood, and how Theresa May prevented the investigation of alleged sexual abuse by security staff when she was Home Secretary.
It was encouraging to see the level of response that the Women’s March generated. We must work so that this momentum generates alliances with other single issue movements (such as the Save the NHS and Refugees are Welcome), in order that this massive demonstration doesn’t simply dissipate.