LONDON/NEW YORK/NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than one million people are expected to attend women’s marches around the world on Saturday to demonstrate against sexism and sexual violence and call for women’s rights following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
A Facebook plea by a Hawaii grandmother to march in response to Trump’s election was credited for igniting the global movement, with more than 600 marches planned.
In a show of solidarity with the main march in the U.S. capital, Washington D.C., marchers will take to the streets of major world capitals such as London and New Delhi, and in farflung spots from Macau to Mexico to Madagascar.
“Resistance Knows No Borders,” read a sign advertising a march in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Initially organizers wanted to highlight the potential impact of a Trump presidency on women’s rights. But as momentum grew, so the mission expanded to concerns about xenophobia, racism, domestic violence and the targeting of Muslims and gays.
“There’s no difference between women who are in the U.S. and here,” said Rachael Mwikali, a 24-year-old student who helped organize Nairobi’s march.
“The American women, they are not alone in this,” she said. “We are together.”
The marches are set for Saturday, one day after the Republican billionaire businessman is sworn into office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Organizers expect to draw 250,000 to the main Washington event.
The National Mall could become a sea of pink after a campaign was launched to sew, crocket or knit “pussyhats” in homage to an infamous 2005 tape of Trump discussing women in which he said: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
With many celebrities distancing themselves from the Trump presidency, a host of musicians and actors have signed up to the main march, with Cher, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore among the big names expected to attend.
“We join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore, to send a bold message to the new U.S. administration on their first day in office,” organizers of the Rome march wrote on Facebook.
“We recognize that many of the decisions they adopt will have serious and lasting global repercussions.”
In London, march organizer Emma McNally said she felt powerless against the politics of fear and division sweeping Europe, with hate crime and discrimination on the increase.
“Myself and many others have had enough,” the 47-year-old artist told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The election of Trump is a tipping point and has acted as a catalyst for us to say ‘Enough is enough.’”
Fourteen marches are planned across Britain, 16 in Mexico and 26 in Canada.
Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organisation for Women in Washington, said women around the world are concerned about the threat of war in a Trump presidency.
Before taking office, Trump upended longheld U.S. policies, laying out hardline pro-Israel views and dismissing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a Western military alliance, as obsolete. He angered China by talking to the president of Taiwan, a break with decades of precedent.
O’Neill said women also worry about climate change, which Trump has branded a hoax, and the risks of armed conflicts.
“Globally what women are reacting to is the very present danger that Donald Trump presents,” O’Neill said.
In India, women are expected to march en masse in more than 20 cities to “reclaim the night” and demand their right to safe public spaces after the alleged mass molestation of women in the city of Bengaluru on New Year’s eve.
“We stand in solidarity with our sisters, as we are all fighting against the same things - misogyny and patriarchy,” said Bhani Rachel, an organiser of the Delhi march.
Reporting by Magdalena Mis @magdalenamis1, Nita Bhalla in New Delhi and Ellen Wulfhorst in New York, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org