It has been a few days since I stood and marched next to my fellow feminists and activists through London right onto Trafalgar Square and I am still processing everything. Each day I look back and remember new details that make me smile.
In an attempt to organize my thoughts, I am trying to put all my impressions, memories and feelings in this article.
The Women’s March has fascinated me since its beginning in 2017. The fact that thousands of like minded women (and men and everyone in-between) would stand together peacefully to bring attention to topics widely disregarded and dismissed sparked a feeling of hope and unity in me that I had not really noticed before. This year was the first time I ever attended any kind of March and I was overwhelmed.
On the tube I saw the first signs. A man held a carton on a broomstick saying: “The problem is all my bosses look like me”. As my friends and I walked towards Portland Place we noticed a lot of streets being shut down and policemen standing there redirecting the drivers. Helicopters buzzing above us. It felt sort of like a film. And the moment we walked around the corner to the meeting point, we were met by a crowd of signs, pink hats and flowers, and a wall of sound hit us. Coming from an empty street and then seeing this, I was amazed.
It was by far not as big as the March in 2017 but that did not stop anyone from chanting as loud as they could and with an enthusiasm that helped even the quiet voices to become loud.
This year’s theme was “Bread and Roses” in reminiscence of the pivotal protests held by women in 1912. Over a hundred years ago they marched for equality and women’s rights, especially for the up-and-coming working woman. And here we are doing sort of the same thing. True to its theme thousands of people brought flowers with them, whether on their signs, their heads, their outfits or as a bouquet. As we walked down Regent Street, some parts of the march were covered in them. You would never expect a field of delicate flowers to roar so loudly.
The chants reached every part of the march. Shouting “Fight like a girl” or “We are change” in crowd of thousands has something deliberating and everyone should have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. Other popular slogans were “Up with the sisters, down with misogyny”, “We will protect our sisters”, “We stand together”, “Time’s up” and my favourite “Show me what democracy looks like – This is what democracy looks like”.
A father with two young girls walked in front of us, a family of five plus grandparents right behind us. The intergenerational composition of this march brought joy to my heart. It made everything seem more important. I know from own experience that generational differences exist and that each generation, shape by their collective experience, has different views. But seeing all these people together, rallying for same reasons shows how substantial these reasons are.
Apart from age, there were so many more differences between the participants. I knew that the Women’s March attracted people from all paths of life, all religions, all ethnicities, all ages, all sexualities, and all genders but seeing it right in front of me, made me realize how diverse we can be and should be.
Each and every one of these people had their very own reason to be at this rally. And it showed. The variety of signs was like an orchestra, each sign played a part in making this rally as representative for our society as possible. From fighting for indigenous rights to being furious about tampon tax, from rejecting Brexit to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality, every sign brought a story with it. And hearing different stories is what makes us well-rounded, insightful, compassionate human beings.
The day ended, for me and my friends, after hearing inspiring speeches by Munroe Bergdorf and other wonderful ladies on Trafalgar Square. Again the chanting began. We were asked to take our neighbour’s hand and promise to protect, lift up and fight with and for our sisters. Trafalgar Square, as cold as it was that day, was filled with a fierceness and a will to change the world that warmed me from the inside.
To recap everything, the day was freezing and the attendance could have been higher but, and this is a big but, the day was also filled with sisterhood, unity, flowers and the feeling of “Ok, some things are actually changing and if not, we’re going to fight for it”.
*All photos taken by me.