By Rhys Thomas
Marches were held around the world last week in a bid to build a new progressive movement and protect the rights of women.
The events came the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America and were intended as a clear rebuke to the new man in the White House, with half a million people taking to the streets of US capital Washington D.C. alone.
Is it just an anti-Trump movement? The simple answer is no. As a Washington Post editorial put it, the protestors want “reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change”.
These are timeless, uniting issues for women (and indeed men) all around the globe. The election of Trump however has undoubtedly sharpened minds and put a real focus on protecting and enhancing women’s rights particularly in the United States, and especially with the manner in which he defeated Hillary Clinton – referring to her as a “nasty woman” and several other unedifying terms as well as boasting about sexual assault including the infamous “grab them by the pussy” tape.
The marches spawned plentiful reaction across traditional and social media with the marches being yet another flashpoint in this era of anger and polarisation.
Phone-hacking former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan was particularly agitated by the marches, taking to Twitter and bombarding his followers with a series of tweets which included “I’m planning a ‘Men’s March’ to protest at the creeping global emasculation of my gender by rabid feminists. Who’s with me?”.
The anti-march reaction continued with other people you’d cross the street to avoid – former MP Anne Widdecombe called it “pathetic” whilst Fox News host Bill O’Reilly oddly claimed that the protestors were “told to show up” and compared it to totalitarian regimes forcing people to go out onto the streets.
One of the people who attended the march in Washington was student Greg Robson who went with his girlfriend, and took a wider view of the event “I went not to directly protest the election of Donald Trump, but to instead send a message to the new administration that some of the things that were said, particularly about women, immigrants and potentially disastrous environmental policy during the campaign are unacceptable”.
This was mirrored by many of the protestors and there was a clear anti-Trump mood infused along with the pro-womens rights messages – signs mocking the newly-elected President such as “We Shall Overcomb” and “Free Melania”.
His comments throughout the campaign and his recent signing of a ban on federal money being given to groups around the world that perform or even provide information on abortions mean that he is a clear and present danger to the rights that the marchers are fighting for.
There were also marches throughout the United Kingdom with London attracting over one-hundred thousand people and the Cardiff march drawing several hundred.
There is no doubt that it is a truly global movement, but what remains to be seen is if this flurry of activism will sustain itself into the hard months and years ahead.