On Friday 20th January, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President of the United States.
On Saturday 21st January 2017, the largest inaugural protest in history happened.
Saturday 21st January 2017. A day that will go down in history. It was a day that filled me with hope and passion to make a difference. It was a day that saw millions of women and men take to the streets to stand up for what they believe in. It was a day that women of all ages, races, ethnicities and backgrounds stood together to fight for change.
During the election campaign, Donald Trump made it clear what he stands for. He stands for hate. He stands for misogyny. He stands for violence. He was repeatedly heard admitting to sexually abusing women, yet America still elected him as their President. It actually scared me throughout the campaign how much support he was gaining. I sat in shock as he stood on podiums across the US making these horrible, racist, sexist and down right disturbing statements. He mocked disabled journalists, he made jokes out of sexual abuse and consistently lied to the American people. This brought about a new wave of hate across the world. I mean, if the next president of the United States can do it, why can’t I?
The world sat in awe at the election results. How could it be possible? Trump was standing against Hilary Clinton, who was fighting to become America’s first female President. She lost, but the world gained a new movement. A movement of people who won’t be defeated. A movement of women, and men, who stand up against all that Trump and his supporters stand for.
The Women’s March on Washington was started by the retired attorney Teresa Shook as a protest to show President Trump and the new administration that women are here and will continue to fight for the rights that they are threatening to take away from women. Across America, solidarity marches were organised. From that, 673 sister marches were organised across the world. From Britain to Iraq, Australia and South Korea, women across the world decided to stand together and show that women’s rights are human rights. In Washington alone, 500,000 people attended. Millions of women and men across the world took to the streets on Saturday 20th January 2017 to make history.
I attended the sister march here in Edinburgh, which was organised by 16-year-old Leah Higgins. Yes, you read that right, she is 16!!! The police did not allow for this to be a march, so it was a protest outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh. Leah had only expected there to be about 50 people attending, but the Facebook event quickly went viral and over 2,000 people attended. There was a line up of speakers throughout the morning and lots of singing and chanting going on.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting, but as we walked along the road it was clear that this was going to be a big event. As we turned the corner there were thousands of people of all ages bearing signs and the famous ‘pussy hats’. I actually just had to stop for a second and take it all in. I couldn’t actually believe what I was seeing. People from all across Scotland had travelled to Edinburgh to stand up for women. They had come to have their voices heard. It takes a lot to make me speechless, but I stood there and I just didn’t know what to say. The atmosphere was electric. I was stood amongst people that have the same values as me, and were ready to fight for them.
In Scotland we are “lucky”. The leaders of three of the biggest political parties in our parliament are women. The leader of our country is an incredible woman who really believes and fights for gender equality. There are policies in place in Scotland specifically for gender equality, but it is still not enough. There is a lot more we could be doing in this country and we should be out in the streets fighting for it. The same week, I was at event all about women and the independence campaign. This event really got me thinking about the issues we face in our country. The guest speaker, Alys Mumford from Engender, said something that really stuck with me. She was talking about all the issues women face in Scotland and said that we need to stop saying that we are lucky that its better here than in other places around the world. You know what, she is right. Yes, we do have it better than other countries, but it is still not good enough. Why are we not fighting to be the best? Why are we not fighting for real gender equality? Still in Scotland, there is a pay gap between men and women, women are still suffering violence, women can’t afford sanitary products and our parliament is only made up of 35% of women.
There is plenty still to fight for, and it was incredible to see that happen over the weekend. To see it happening in my own city, as well as cities and towns across the world, was the most humbling thing. It reaffirmed all my beliefs and values and re-ignited the fire in me to fight against injustice and to fight for all my sisters across the world.
The fight is not over, its only just beginning. So how can you get involved now? Well, if you live in Scotland, I know exactly what you can do. You can become a member of Engender, which is Scotland’s feminist organisation. They publish some amazing reports and do some great work that you can get involved in. You can also support the Free. Period. Campaign. This campaign is just beginning, and is aiming to provide free sanitary products for all women in Scotland, no matter who, or where they are. If you are not in Scotland, why not have a look into what is going on in your local area you can get involved in?
Did you go to a Women’s March? Let me know!