About a quarter of a million people are expected to turn out for the Women’s March on Washington in protest on President Donald Trump’s first day in office.
The march aims to bring together women across diverse backgrounds to send a bold message to the new administration that they will not be ignored or have their rights stomped on.
It began as a modest call to action on Facebook the night after Trump’s election and has grown into what could be one of the larger political demonstrations ever staged in the US capital.
People carried signs with calls for gender equality and anti-Trump statements, though the rally’s organisers have insisted the demonstration is more pro-women than anti-Trump. Many sported pink knitted beanies called “pussy hats,” a symbol of solidarity among the protestors.
Actress America Ferrara, star of the hit sitcom “Ugly Betty,” kicked off the events with a forceful speech from the main stage area.
“Our opposition knows how to stick together. They are united in their objective to hold this country back. … So we too must stand united,” Ferrara said.
“If we, the millions of American who believe in a common decency, in a greater good, in justice for all — if we fall into a trap of 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 at saving the soul of our country,” she said.
Inclusivity was a central theme of the many speeches.
Rhea Suh, president of the non-profit environmental group the National Resources Defence Council, took the stage to remind attendees that they stronger when they stand as one.
“It was one woman in Hawaii who suggested that women should march at inauguration. And look at us now, 500,000 people strong,” Suh said. “One woman turns into one march turns into an entire movement. That is a powerful thing. And it means as strong and as tough as this administration thinks it is, we will always be stronger.”
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem received some of the loudest cheers at the event. She spoke to the significance of women coming together in every US state and across six continents — in person — as opposed to voicing their opinions on social media.
“Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes pressing send is not enough,” Steinem said, making a subtle dig at the Twitter-obsessed President Trump. “This unifies us with the many in the world who do not have electricity or computers … but do have the same hopes, the same dreams.”
“This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age, it is deep in diversity. And remember, the Constitution does not begin with “I, the President,’ it begins with ‘We, the people,'” Steinem said.
Meanwhile, more than 600 “sister marches” are organised in global cities, including Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and as far as Sydney, Paris, Madrid, and Tokyo.
We will continue to update this most as the Women’s March on Washington continues.
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