Sunday 25 February 2018

Thousands of women join worldwide protest against Trump

Protesters wait for speakers along the barricades at the Women's March on Washington (AP)
Protesters wait for speakers along the barricades at the Women's March on Washington (AP)
People gather at Hyde Park during the Women's March rally in Sydney against Donald Trump (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Riot police push back demonstrators during a protest in central Washington during the inauguration of President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Tens of thousands of women have amassed in Washington DC and other cities around the globe for marches aimed at showing US president Donald Trump they will not be silent over the next four years.

Actress America Ferrera told the crowd in the US capital: "We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war.

"Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.

"But the president is not America. We are America, and we are here to stay."

The women brandished signs with messages such as "Women won't back down" and "Less fear more love" and decried Mr Trump's stand on such issues as abortion, health care, diversity and climate change.

There were early signs that the crowds in the capital could top those which gathered for Mr Trump's inauguration on Friday.

City officials said organisers of the Women's March on Washington had more than doubled their turnout estimate to 500,000 as crowds began swelling.

Hillary Clinton has praised those attending the march.

The former Democratic presidential nominee thanked attendees on Twitter for "standing, speaking and marching for our values". She said this is as "important as ever".

Mrs Clinton also revived her campaign slogan and said in the tweet she believes "we're always Stronger Together".

The defeated presidential candidate's show of support for the march comes a day after she attended Mr Trump's inauguration at the US Capitol.

In Washington, Rena Wilson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she hopes the women can send Mr Trump a message that they're "not going anywhere".

Joy Rodriguez, of Miami, arrived with her husband, William, and their two daughters, aged 12 and 10. "I want to make sure their rights are not infringed on in these years coming up," she said.

March organisers said women are "hurting and scared" as the new American president takes office and want a greater voice for women in political life.

"In the spirit of democracy and honouring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore," their mission statement said.

Many protesters arrived wearing hand-knitted "pussyhats" - a message of female empowerment aimed squarely at Mr Trump's crude boast about grabbing women's genitals.

The march attracted significant support from celebrities. Ferrara led the artists' contingent, with Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd, Melissa Harris-Perry and Michael Moore also expected to speak in Washington.

The promised performance line-up included Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Samantha Ronson, the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Cher, Katy Perry and Julianne Moore are all expected to attend.

Women and other groups were demonstrating across the nation and as far abroad as Myanmar and Australia. In Prague, hundreds gathered in Wenceslas Square in freezing weather, waving portraits of Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin and holding banners which read "This is just the beginning," ''Kindness" and "Love".

In Copenhagen, march organiser Lesley-Ann Brown said: "Nationalist, racist and misogynistic trends are growing worldwide and threaten the most marginalised groups in our societies, including women, people of colour, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community and people with disabilities."

In Sydney, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity in Hyde Park. One organiser said hatred, bigotry and racism are not just American problems.

The idea for the march took off after a number of women posted on social media in the hours after Mr Trump's election about the need to mobilise.

Hundreds of groups quickly joined the cause, pushing a wide range of causes, including abortion rights, gun control, climate change and immigrant rights.

While the march organisers' mission statement never mentions Mr Trump and stresses broad themes, including the message that "women's rights are human rights", the unifying factor among those turning out appeared to be a loathing for the new US president and dismay that so much of the country voted for him.

The turnout in the capital was so big that crowds packed the entire march route, preventing organisers from leading a formal trek towards the White House.

Likewise, in Chicago, organisers cancelled the march portion of their event for safety reasons after the overflow crowd reached an estimated 150,000.

Officials said the crowd in Washington could be more than half a million people, more than double the expected total. The event appeared to have attracted more people than Mr Trump's inauguration on Friday, based on figures from transportation officials.

In Washington, feminist leader Gloria Steinem described the worldwide mobilisation as "the upside of the downside", adding: "This is an outpouring of energy and democracy like I have never seen in my very long life.

"Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are," she told the crowd, labelling Mr Trump an "impossible president".

Cher told the crowd in the US capital that Mr Trump's rise has people "more frightened maybe than they're ever been".

In Park City, Utah, Charlize Theron led demonstrators in a chant of "Love, not hate, makes America great". And in New York, actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Helen Mirren and Cynthia Nixon joined a crowd of protesters marching towards Mr Trump's local home.

Press Association

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