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Meet the women spearheading this Friday’s protest against Trump

Posted by
Alix Walker
Published

Ahead of Donald Trump’s first official visit to the UK* since becoming president, the team behind Women’s March London urge you to join them as they march for a world that celebrates equality for all. 

Donald Trump is president of the United States. It still doesn’t get less inconceivable, does it? The 72-year-old’s appointment as POTUS has turned the last 18 months into a rollercoaster of increasing horror as we’ve swallowed his racist policies and prehistoric opinions and shockingly inappropriate tweets

And then we saw the photos. Images of distraught toddlers crying for the parents they’d been taken away from, because those parents were running away from things we can’t imagine. Audio tapes of crying children, and men who mockingly said to them, “Well we have an orchestra here.” And suddenly, his latest immigration policy turned our shocked faces into weeping ones. 

And on Thursday 12 July, Trump is touching down in London to begin a highly controversial three-day ‘best of British’ tour with a meeting with Theresa May
 at Chequers and a visit to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen. But we’re not about to let this one go. Which is why we’re taking to the streets of London on Friday 13 July from 11am (with an estimated 53,000 people) and marching against his visit and every single one of his bigoted views. 

Women flocked to the streets of London at this year’s Time’s Up rally to protest Trump and all he stands for

Why is this so crucial? How about Trump’s views on women as nothing more than sexual platters for him to devour (as shown by the recording where he claimed, “I grab them by the pussy”). There are currently 17 allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him (he denies them all) and he once mused about how a contestant on the US version of The Apprentice would look “on her knees”. 

He thinks women who work are “a very dangerous thing”. But all minorities are in his sights. Since becoming president, his policies have seen a rise in hate crimes against Muslims across America. Whether it’s attempts
 to ban trans people from the US army, comments that some white supremacists are “very fine people”, attacks on reproductive freedom via restricted access to contraception or reproductive healthcare, the Trump Effect has been so damaging to progressive attitudes it has, for many of us, surpassed politics and personal views. 

The biggest instigators of Friday’s protests are Women’s March London, who organised the 21 January 2017 march after Trump’s inauguration, and the Time’s Up march on 21 January 2018 against inequality and sexual harassment. You had better believe Team Stylist will be joining them in force. We truly hope we’ll see you there too. 

Why we march

There are six brilliant women behind Friday’s Women’s March London:
 Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu,
 Akeela Ahmed MBE, Aisha Ali-Khan, Emma McNally, Rachel Krengel and Huda Jawad. Here, four of them share their own powerful personal motives for marching.

Aisha Ali-Khan

Mother, teacher, campaigner and Women’s March London co-organiser, lives in Bradford

“I grew up in a very traditional Punjabi home where women were invisible. It was just about the boys. I’ve spent my whole life fighting against the patriarchy and ideas of how women ‘should’ behave. It’s alienated me from my family and my community but I do not have time to be subservient or comply with cultural demands. It’s about finding your voice and making sure it’s not taken away again.

Every single thing Donald Trump stands for has got me out campaigning. His comments about touching women’s pussies show a deeply ingrained misogyny. And his opinions on Muslims feel particularly personal. I was in Morocco when Trump revealed his plan for a Muslim ban if he came into power in 2015. It dawned on me that this man could have such a negative impact on the world. When he mocked the disabled reporter it was another personal blow as my sister is disabled. But perhaps his most offensive policy to me is his war on women’s reproductive rights. My mum was told to stop having more children as they could risk being disabled but my father wouldn’t allow her to use contraception. Three of my brothers died as a result of being born with disabilities. I deeply believe women should have choice over their own bodies.

Not many Asian women speak out. We’re so used to being told don’t do this, stay subservient, don’t challenge men. Everything is about trying to get a nice marriage proposal. It’s almost as though Asian women don’t have a voice and often these marches can feel like a white, middle-class thing. So I’ve made it my mission to speak out as much as possible and make sure Asian women are represented and seen. Trump likes women who are silent. Let’s be the opposite.

Donald Trump may not be our president but the impact of his policies and rhetoric is having a ripple effect around Europe. We need to make a stand so the people who are being impacted will still see that we came out and marched
 for them. We helped our brothers and sisters.”

Rachel Krengel

Women’s March London co-organiser, lives in Croydon with her two children

“I’m angry about it all: about the ban on abortion clinics, about the children in cages, about the Muslim ban. But personally, that people voted for a man who has boasted about sexual assault [“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy”] and who has been accused of rape on multiple occasions is what angers me the most.

I am a survivor of sexual assault. My assault happened because of a poor understanding of consent. This wasn’t a malicious attack; rather it came out of a place of not understanding my value as a person. I was lucky in that I was able to very quickly identify that it was assault, because I very clearly said no. But I know many women can grapple with this for years.

Women are taught from a very young age not to have boundaries, or that it’s OK for men to not respect their boundaries. I remember when
 I was 11 one of my primary school bullies could no longer get a rise out of me so he started sitting next to me on the bus and putting his hand up my skirt to reassert his power. I began acting up at school because I couldn’t articulate what was happening but rather than dealing with the situation my teacher simply asked a girl to sit next to me. It’s like the stair in your house you just avoid rather than fix… That’s how we treat male violence, we just find a workaround. This march isn’t just about Trump. It’s about what he represents. Rape culture and Islamophobia and transphobia are happening not just in America, but all over the world. What Trump has done is galvanise people who were already there. These far-right groups that were previously a joke are now growing at a terrifying rate as they become more empowered to express their bigoted views. So what do we do? We fight back. We have to show them that there are many, many more people who want less marginalisation, not more. There are many, many people who are pro-equality and pro-diversity. This march is about giving a voice and a platform to all of the people and the things that he hates.

The atmosphere at the marches we’ve done so far has been amazing. We really felt like we took the streets. Both marches took place
 on freezing cold days but people stayed long after they were over to share ideas and form networks. There will always be horrible things happening in the world,
 but there are so many people who want to stop them and that’s inspiring.”

Huda Jawad

Activist, writer and Women’s March London co-organiser, lives in London with her husband and two children.

“I arrived in Britain at the age of 10 with my parents and two sisters, having sought political asylum following eight years of hiding out around the Gulf and in Damascus. My parents were vocal political activists against Saddam Hussein’s regime, which was extremely dangerous. Their lives were under threat so we spent periods hiding in people’s houses, living in our car and squatting in a sheik’s villa. I became a very responsible person at an age when all you want to do is eat ice cream and have a doll.

Although I’ve been an activist all my life, 
I didn’t become a feminist until I began working for a domestic violence charity called Solace Women’s Aid when I was in my 30s.

I began to label the things I had seen growing up that I didn’t have the language to talk about [at the time]. My mother had the grades to go to medical school but her father wouldn’t let her because it was a mixed-sex school, so she became a science teacher. My grandmother was the only girl in a line of 14 boys; she was denied any education and was essentially illiterate when she died while all of her brothers became doctors or surgeons across Europe and America. Once you become a feminist, you can’t not see inequality everywhere. 
When Women’s March London asked me to be involved it came at a time when I felt like my world had collapsed. After Brexit and then Trump, it felt like 
I had come full circle – Britain, my home, my refuge, suddenly feels like the place I escaped from all
 those years ago. 

Since 9/11 what it means to be a Muslim in the UK has changed. My children are growing up in an environment where very important aspects of who they are are singled out as a threat. Oppression, nationalism and xenophobia were the things my family and I fled from yet they’re growing in this country. Women’s March has become my sanctuary from that.

This Friday we will march to provide an alternative to a world that is ruled by hate, fear, mistrust, misogyny and racism. We are trying to create a space in which anything anti-Trump is allowed to flourish. Whether you’re conservative or liberal, woman or man, there are so many of us who feel this current style of engagement
 of politics is not right. Our government needs
to represent our views when they’re talking
 to Trump. We elected them to power, they represent us. Everyone is welcome to join us.”

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Attorney, activist, writer 
and founder of Women in Leadership Publication, lives in London with her husband and three children
.

“I’ve always been a rebel at heart. When I was in year one at primary school I led my class mates to lock our headmistress in her office because we wanted more food for lunch. I guess it’s in my DNA to challenge and to question authority and injustice. I strongly believe there’s no point in worrying about things, just get out there and force change. When we sit on the fence we are complicit in the very things we hate.

My feminist father has always been my hero, my biggest supporter. He died six years ago but would have been marching with us with pride. He encouraged me to be the best I could be and sacrificed so much to give me my education.

He was the antithesis of Trump. I miss him very much. Right now I’m particularly angry that history may well repeat itself. Hitler started with being divisive and spreading hatred and phobia of others. 

I’m angry that [Trump’s] behaviour could influence other world leaders and that they stay silent out of fear of rocking the boat with America. I’ve had experiences of being discriminated against because of my gender and the colour of my skin but that’s not what drives me, it’s the ill treatment of other minorities every day. It’s seeing old white men making decisions for everyone else. It’s stories of women being discriminated against at work and silenced culturally.

You have no idea how impactful you can be until you try. You don’t have to be vocal to be resistant. Use who you are and what you have. Either way join us in person, on social media, in whatever capacity you feel comfortable. You’re key to the campaign of resistance.”

March against Trump 

Whether you directly oppose Trump’s visit or want to show your support for a world that welcomes everyone, join the Stylist team as we #BringTheNoise with Women’s March London on Friday 13 July. 

The march will start at 11am outside the BBC at Portland Place, and finish at Parliament Square for a rally from 2-4pm. Wear rainbow colours to celebrate diversity and bring pots, pans or musical instruments to make some noise. Visit womensmarchlondon.com for more details. 

*At time of press, Trump’s visit was still happening. If it’s now been cancelled: HURRAY. If he’s still coming: BOO. 

Images: Getty

Poll

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