On January 21, 2017, in the largest single-day demonstration in American history, women across the world gathered together in protest of the recent presidential inauguration. The march began as a Facebook post by Teresa Shook, a retired Hawaii lawyer, that invited a few friends to a protest. But as more and more of these pages began and thousands of people became interested, they united their efforts and a national board for this event was created. The march wasn’t just for women’s rights. It was a fight for human rights, immigrant rights, environmental rights, racial equality, and LGBT rights.
Originally named the Million Women March to pay tribute to the 1997 march under the same name, it was later changed to the Women’s March on Washington to pay tribute to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The original march was planned to be in Washington, D.C., our nation's capital. Crowds gathered together in response to the anti-woman statements made by our president, and the rhetoric of his campaign that attacked groups such as Muslims, immigrants, survivors of sexual assault, and Natives.
With a crowd of around 500,000 people, a turnout larger than expected, the attendance in the capital was nearly three times the size of Trump’s inauguration. An honorary chair of the board of organizers and longtime feminist activist, Gloria Steinem said in her speech at the march:
"Our constitution does not begin with 'I, the President.' It begins with, 'We, the People.' I am proud to be one of thousands who have come to Washington to make clear that we will keep working for a democracy in which we are linked as human beings, not ranked by race or gender or class, or any other label."
Because of the amount of people interested, marches were planned across the country. In New York City, there was an estimated total of 400,000 in attendance. In Chicago, 250,000. In Ohio alone, there were eight marches. Politicians, such as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, gave speeches at the demonstrations in their state, and celebrities spoke at various marches across the country. Almost every major city in the U.S. had a protest planned, and the march didn’t stop in the United States. There were marches in London, Paris, Sydney, Nairobi, and Berlin as well. No arrests were made at these marches, for the demonstrations were peaceful.
“We were there to make our voices heard,” explained sophomore Anika Elias, who marched in Washington, D.C. Ankia said, “I went to the march with the intent not to be seen as a 'snowflake', but as a young woman with the intent to make change.” She agreed that, amongst the 1.2 million people marching that day, there was an overall understanding that love and peace among everyone plays a huge role in how we treat each other.
Since the march has ended, the question asked by many is simply “What’s next?” The Women’s March official website has released a, “10 Actions for the First 100 Days” campaign, urging women to keep up the momentum of the march and continue fighting for women’s rights on a local scale.