Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Here’s everything you need to know about the Women’s March on Washington

womens-march-washington.jpg

After the results of the US election were announced, a retired attorney in Hawaii took to Facebook to make a suggestion. Why, suggested Teresa Shook, didn’t women who were upset with the result gather for a march in Washington on Inauguration Day?

That was in November. Since then, the Women’s March on Washington (as it is now formally known) has grown to include over 100,000 registered attendees. Some 150,000 people have clicked “attending” on the event’s Facebook page, and organisers estimate 200,000 people will participate in the protest once inauguration weekend rolls around. As a result, the Washington Post reports that the march is likely to be the biggest protest over the weekend Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States.

“We plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought for and struggled to get,” Tamika Mallory, one of the march’s main organisers, tells the Post.

donald trump

The man who started it all: Donald Trump.

The protest is not specifically anti-Trump, according to its organisers

While the timing of the march seems to strongly indicate that the Women’s March on Washington is a protest against Trump, the organisers say that this is not the case. “We’re not targeting Trump specifically. It’s much more about being proactive about women’s rights,” says Cassady Fendlay, spokesperson for the march.


Read more: This Trump-inspired t-shirt has raised over £80,000 for Planned Parenthood


However, organisers acknowledge that Trump’s election has motivated many women to get involved who wouldn’t necessarily have been interested in feminist activism before.

“[It] is ironic, because a lot of us thought a Hillary presidency would motivate women,” Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Centre for Women and Politics at Pittsburgh’s Chatham University, tells the Post. “A lot of women seem to be saying, ‘This is my time. I’m not going to be silent anymore.’

million woman march

The upcoming Women's March on Washington was initially going to be called the Million Women March, after a 1997 protest of hundreds of thousands of black women in Philadelphia.

The organising group was initially criticised for a lack of diversity

Teresa Shook, the woman who first created the Facebook event for the march, had never considered herself a political activist. As a result, she enlisted the help of the first few women who messaged her to volunteer – all of whom were white. As the march grew in prominence, questions were raised about the racial make-up of its organising group, the Post reports. The current organising committee is made up of veteran female activists from a diverse variety of backgrounds.

There was also some early controversy about the march’s name. Shook had initially suggested calling it the Million Woman March (the name of a 1997 gathering of hundreds of thousands of African-American women in Philadelphia). Many interpreted this as a co-opting of an important moment in black feminist history.

Similarly, when the name “the Women’s March on Washington” was proposed (a nod to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a cornerstone of the civil rights movement), some questioned whether it was inclusive enough of African-American women who have historically felt excluded from mainstream feminism.

tamika mallory

Tamika Mallory, one of the lead organisers of the Women's March on Washington, speaking at an event to commemorate the original March on Washington in 1963.

It has support from major organisations

Over 100 groups – including Human Rights Watch, OXFAM, Black Girls Rock and the National Centre for Lesbian Rights – have signed on to support the protest.


Read more: Rebecca Ferguson says she’ll sing at Trump’s inauguration – on one condition


One of the march’s most prominent partners, Planned Parenthood, has been unambiguously and directly threatened by a Trump presidency. Incoming Vice President Mike Pence introduced the first bill seeking to defund the reproductive health service provider back in 2007; today, Planned Parenthood remains at risk of being stripped of vital federal funds. “I am committed to… defunding Planned Parenthood,” wrote Trump in a September letter to anti-abortion activists.

protest trump

A woman protests against Trump's election in London in November 2016. A sister march of the Women's March on Washington is planned in London.

There will be a sister march in the UK

The Women’s March on London is taking place on Saturday 21 January, the same day as the March on Washington.

“[On] the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency… We call on people of all genders to march in London as part of an international day of action in solidarity,” write the organisers on the event’s Facebook page, adding: “We unite and stand together for the dignity and equality of all peoples, for the safety and health of our planet and for the strength of our vibrant and diverse communities.”

Sister marches are also planned in some 30 cities including Paris, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Sydney, Stockholm, Athens and Frankfurt.  

Images: iStock, Rex Features

Related

michelle obama melania trump advice.jpg

President Michelle Obama? FLOTUS on stresses of running for office

feminists-of-the-year-2016.jpg

The fearless feminists who rallied against inequality in 2016

tampon tax protest.jpg

Laura Bates takes heart from the positives of 2016

More

20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017