Women from around the globe explain why they marched in their home countries
From Germany to Nigeria, countless women demonstrated in solidarity with the march on Washington.
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington was a global event. At last count, 60 different countries held 673 sister marches across all seven continents.
The millions of people who turned out for those marches all had their own reasons for taking to the streets. ThinkProgress asked some of the women who organized protests outside the United States to describe their reasons for getting involved.
What follows are the perspectives of women from all over the world on why they marched and what their next steps will be.
Sister marches took place across Germany, including in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Heidelberg.
Emily Lines, one of the organizers of the march in Berlin, told ThinkProgress over email that the march was about more than just Trump.
“There are many Americans that live in Berlin, as well as individuals that are concerned about the situation in the United States, the growth of right-wing parties in Europe, and the protection of basic human rights,” said Lines, an American. “We knew that there would be a strong interest in this event, and… we wanted to make sure Berlin was represented and an active part in this movement.”
Lines said the organizers plan to keep Berlin-based Americans engaged in politics at home.
“Many times, people do not feel like they can make much of a difference if they are living abroad or they don’t know how to do so. This is where we come in, and we want to try and provide individuals with the tools and know-how to be proactive citizens,” she said. “It’s important that politicians also hear from their constituents that are living abroad, because that is a reminder that we do still care, and we do still hold them accountable, even if all their decisions may not affect us as much as if we were living in the States.”
Renee Martyna, one of the organizers of the march in Bali, Indonesia, told ThinkProgress that her community held a gathering rather than a protest, because they thought “a protest would not serve the agenda of promoting compassion, diversity and solidarity in quite the same way a celebration would.”
“We invited prominent women leaders from the Balinese community to share the complex social problems they face in health care, the arts, and the legal system,” Martyna told ThinkProgress over email. “Then we invited members of our nomadic coworking community at Hubud, which totals more than 5,000 people from 75 countries now, to start thinking about what they might do about it.”
“There were some big issues laid bare: did you know that there are still Balinese girls being forced to marry as young as 12 years old? That some of them are trafficked or abused by their teachers, and parents, because of extreme poverty? That Bali is in a serious water crisis and women are bearing the brunt? That when a Balinese woman marries, she completely abdicates her former life, including her family gods, so she can take on those of her husband? Sometimes, she isn’t even permitted to see her family of origin again.”
Martyna said learning about these issues mobilized the crowd. “That’s the real power of getting women from so many different walks of life in a room together around a cause like this: We can tell the truth. And we all grow.”
“Celebrations might seem like an anachronism given what’s going on in the world today, but for us, it was the perfect recipe for igniting enthusiasm for the hard work that is ahead of us. By having fun, we laid the groundwork for solidarity with time-tested classics of connection: storytelling, food, physical movement, and invoking powers greater than us all.”
Israel and Palestine
Hundreds of people protested in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv on the day of the Women’s March. Cecilia Blasbalg and Rachel Druck, two of the march’s organizers, told ThinkProgress they wanted to help create “a worldwide resistance movement” against everything they believe Trump represents.
“We wanted to organize a solidarity rally in Israel because, as American citizens, Jewish and Israeli-Americans, we are deeply disturbed by what the Trump administration represents (racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia) and the detrimental effects President Trump’s policies will have on women and minorities’ rights in the United States and around the world, and the security of the Middle East,” they said in an email.
According to +972 Magazine, marchers chanted about rights of Palestinians, the LGBTQ community, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.
“We will focus on the message that Trump is not good for America, or good for Israel,” wrote Blasbalg and Druck. “We will continue to bring together all concerned citizens of the world who want peace in Israel to speak out against Trump’s reckless pronouncements regarding Israel, in addition to speaking out against his choice of the extreme right-wing ideologue David Friedman as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel.”
Thousands of people gathered in Amsterdam on the day of the Women’s March on Washington. They marched from the I amsterdam letters in front of the Rijksmuseum towards the U.S. Consulate.
“The press has been quick to call this an Anti-Trump initiative, when the issues that he stirred in the United States are issues everywhere,” Petra Benach, one of the march’s organizers, told ThinkProgress over email. “There’s a rise in hate crimes, a growing fear of immigrants, and increased/continued discrimination in every country against pretty much every subsection of the population that isn’t in the norm. (In the United States, that norm is probably straight white male.)”
“The March mission and vision is broader than one politician or one country, but it’s important to take its message and apply it to our own life,” Ashley Cowles, another organizer added. “The Netherlands has its own brand of populism, and it’s gaining ground. With the Dutch national elections less than two months away, it’s important that we reject intolerance and show solidarity here as well.”
The Dutch General elections will be held in March. On Monday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his center-right party, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, ran a full page advertisement in several newspapers telling people to “act normal, or go away” if they don’t like the country’s values. The right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) looks most likely to place first in the election — despite being found guilty of hate speech against Moroccans late last year.
“With the elections right around the corner, we need to educate people about how to cast a vote that isn’t based on political rhetoric designed to instill fear/hatred towards other people, and to vote for a more positive, solutions driven platforms,” said Benach.
The Amsterdam organizers said they are part of the Global March Organizers team on Slack, and are planning on meeting with them soon to talk about the movement’s founding principles — and how to carry them forward.
Pwakim Jacob, an organizer for the solidarity march in Jos, Nigeria, told ThinkProgress over email that it was “an opportunity for us to join a global movement for gender parity.”
But more specifically, Jacob wanted to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence in Nigeria.
“I decided to organize the event because there are issues of domestic violence in Jos and Nigeria as a whole, triggered by the near non-existence of institutional or legal frameworks to protect vulnerable members of the society,” Jacob said. “The event was aimed at raising the consciousness of policymakers on the plight of women and calling on them to make policies that would reduce tendencies of domestic violence.”
Jacob pointed to specific federal and state-level policies that should be passed to help Nigerian women, like the Gender & Equal Opportunity Bill, which was rejected in the Nigerian Senate last May and would have promoted women’s equality when it comes to marriage, inheritance, and education. Jacob also spoke about the need for policies protecting children from underage marriage.
“Engaging local power holders,” is one of the next steps, said Jacob. “Engaging with young women on how to participate in public governance, messaging using phone numbers or emails, which we have already commenced.”
The United Kingdom
Sister marches took place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester, but the biggest one in the United Kingdom was in London, where at least 100,000 people gathered.
“We had all heard about the Women’s March on Washington being organised in D.C. and it gave us the inspiration to start our march, but our march’s grassroots origins were organically formed without direction or discussion with D.C.,” Kimberly Espinal, one of the organizers of the march in London, told ThinkProgress over email. “As the initiative grew bigger and it became evident that this was going to be a global movement, we liaised closely with D.C. and the other march organizers across the globe.”
“We had long, deep discussions about how we got here in the first place. How did we end up living in such a divided society and with shocking inequality, where politicians who fed of fear and incited hatred were given such a large platform?” she added.
Espinal said that she hoped the march would diminish people’s complacency and disengagement from politics. “We wanted people to use the march as an inspiration to continue to work in shaping the political landscape at grassroots and community level helping the most vulnerable and forgotten in the process.”
The London organizers will also be adopting the Washington march’s 10 Actions/100 Days plan as a way of keeping people mobilized.
“The actions are tangible and achievable and touch on the causes that brought us together on Saturday the 21st of January,” said Espinal. “Our first action is for everyone to write to [Prime Minister] Theresa May, who is due to see Donald Trump this week in Washington. We are urging everyone to tell Theresa May that any negotiation with the United States needs to honor human rights and women’s rights.”