Yesterday I joined 100k women, men and children in London – and millions around the world – on the Women’s March.
The journey in was packed with people moving with confidence, greeting their companions for the march, handmade signs tucked under their arms. It was jovial, but with an underlying feeling of determination. I’d left the kids home with Doug, Mabel wailing ‘muuuuummeeeeeeeeee’ at the door, put out by Mum leaving on a Saturday. Seeing all those women with a purposeful look in their eye on the journey in to London washed away any feelings of guilt. It felt important.
I felt unexpectedly emotional when I met friends, I think because it suddenly felt a bit desperate. How did we get here? Are we really marching because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t start to engage more? If we don’t express this fear and disbelief, could we actually find that the world we know moves backwards faster than we can imagine? Mindlessly assuming that the majority of people around us hold the same views is turning out to be frighteningly inaccurate.
Events of 2016 felt like a step backwards from what I thought I knew. We have progressed so much since even our grandparents generation – in rights for women, in equality, in education, in acceptance of people ‘different’ to ourselves. To quote Madonna at Washington’s march yesterday (hey, I’m still an 80s child): ‘It seems as though we had all slipped into a false sense of comfort that justice would prevail and that good would win in the end’.
If recent events served as an awakening, and yesterday as the beginning, that’s got to count for something.
Am I qualified to talk about this? To engage in political debate? With kids and work and life and dicking about on Instagram, I don’t spend as much time as I should reading the news. I might word it wrong and look stupid. But then while I’ve been busy thinking that other people have got this, people with fundamentally different views to my own have mobilised. Maybe 2016 had a bigger plan for us than leaving us dumbstruck and in fear. In the gym this morning I found myself actively putting on BBC News rather than flicking between my usual music channel/Homes under the Hammer/Channel 5 movie tripe. I heard a group of ten year old boys in the café talking about Obamacare. And going by the numbers out in force yesterday, and the support online from even greater numbers, that awakening isn’t restricted to those that would term themselves ‘political’.
The London organisers of the march said it was a chance to highlight a wide range of issues and encourage people to get involved in politics and their communities going forward. The huge numbers standing in solidarity yesterday made me feel hopeful.
As to what happens next, this article from Obama’s White House Communications Director Jeni Psaki says the next step is figuring out how to each do our part.
“ The most important step attendees can take is to determine what in their daily lives they will do to stand up to bigotry or sexism…to engage in an issue or local race, defend a friend or coworker or even run for office. And we are going to have to get a little bit uncomfortable in our daily lives to do that by making time, by thinking hard about what we care about, by speaking up even when it isn’t easy.
“The march shouldn’t be a moment to rest and celebrate. It should be a warm up”.
Some ideas for actions if you want to get started here https://www.womensmarch.com/100/
The first is to email Theresa May ahead of her meeting with Trump, asking her to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to equality and human rights https://email.number10.gov.uk/