MILLIONS MARCH: THE START OF A REVOLUTION
DIRECTOR OF THE EQUALITY INSTITUTE, DR EMMA FULU, RECOUNTS HER EXPERIENCE OF THE WOMEN'S MARCH IN WASHINGTON D.C.
There must have been nearly a million people. A sea of pink knitted pussy hats, filling the National Mall in Washington DC, in a cheeky nod to Trump abhorrently bragging about grabbing women by the genitals. Women, from the youngest of babes squished against their mothers’ breasts to those who have already committed decades to fighting for women's rights, marched side-by-side. There were people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and religions. And not just women. Men and boys – sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and those allied with women – held signs that said, “I'm with her” with arrows pointing in every direction, and chanted 'Her body. Her choice'.
The march started as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States and his misogynistic campaign rhetoric. It was inspired by the bitter disappointment many women felt seeing an imminently more qualified and suitable female candidate lose to a white man who spouted fear and hate. It began as a resistance to the very real threat that Trump’s policies pose to the rights of women, immigrants, minorities, Native people, people of colour, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA communities, and anyone else who isn’t a rich, white man.
One hilarious sign said, “You’re so vain, you probably think this march is about you, don’t you?” And even though it was held on Trump’s first full day in office, the march was not about one man. With sister marches around the world, that organisers say drew nearly 5 million protesters in all, I saw a global movement galvanise. A movement with an agenda to recognise women’s rights as human rights, to end violence against women, to promote racial justice and reproductive freedom, to address climate change and protect the environment, to recognise worker’s rights and LGBTGIA rights and indigenous rights.
Some political commentators may say that the movement is weakened by so many different political agendas. But these issues are all interconnected. Women, and men, have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues. And only by addressing them simultaneously can we create a society built on dignity and respect for all.
As I stood side by side with hundreds of thousands of people, my legs ached and my belly groaned from hunger, but my heart swelled. I had come all the way from Melbourne, Australia. From The Equality Institute, an organisation that works to promote gender equality and end violence against women. I am not American. Trump is not my president. But these are my people, I thought. This is what women can do.
After the deep sense of loss so many of us felt following the November election, yesterday I was moved by the joy and hope and laughter that permeated the crisp air. This was a celebration. A celebration of feminism, inclusive and intersectional-feminism. A celebration of the power of people. People standing up. Standing in unison, saying we choose love and kindness and respect. That we will not be silenced. That we will resist. That we choose freedom over fear. But that we cannot be free unless we are all free. That we cannot be equal unless we are all equal.
The cliché says that it is darkest just before the dawn. And yesterday felt like the dawning of a new day. Not just any day. A day that will go down in history. The first day of a revolution. The beginning of an unstoppable movement of people who believe in the oneness of humanity.
And I say, bring it on!