I wrote this following the Women’s March.
As Donald Trump settled in to the Oval Office on Saturday, millions of people worldwide took to the streets to march for women’s rights. In London, Labour members, trade unionists and thousands of first-time marchers mobilised too. Spectators and social media trolls asked why we bothered; what difference does marching make? For me, the women’s march was about hope.
After a year that has shown us that you can boast about sexual assault and be elected president of the United States, and that the European Union’s guarantee of rights like equal pay and maternity leave can be taken away, we needed to boost our spirits.
It is easy to feel scared. Our rights feel threatened, our hard work undermined and our prospects gloomier. Many women fear that the fights they had decades ago, that they thought were won, will now have to be fought again. Others fear that the progress they thought was inevitable may not be. The march showed each of us we are not alone in our fears – or in our hopes.
It reminded us why we fight: because we want an equal society, where girls get the same opportunities as boys – no matter the colour of their skin or the money their parents have. Women deserve equal access to healthcare, equal pay, choice about their own bodies and a chance to be whatever they want to be, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. We know that progress is possible when good people act, and Saturday showed us that lots of good people are ready to act. Highlighting our shared hopes and the possibility of a better world gave us the energy to keep fighting.
For many, the march was the inspiration to start fighting. People who had not marched before joined with old-timers, bringing the numbers in London up to nearly 100,000. Globally, around three million people marched in solidarity with each other. It was a reminder that, no matter how bad things get, we are strong when we stand together – and that gives us hope that we can keep winning.
Saturday gave us hope for the next generation, too. There were lots of children on the march: little boys who will have learned about respecting women’s rights and little girls who will have taken away the message that they can one day do and be anything they want. If just one girl saw the march and decided she wants to stand for president, one day of action will have made a world of difference. The march sent a strong message to Trump and leaders everywhere that we women will not back down until that girl is in the White House and women have won equal rights and equal treatment.
As Trump enters the White House and Britain prepares to leave the EU, there has never been a more important time to remind the world that women’s rights are human rights – and we will not let them go without a fight.