Women’s March 2017: what drove women to join marches around the world?

On January 21st, the day following Trump’s Inauguration Day, over 5 million women and men came to march in various places worldwide. Washington, New York, Chicago, the UK, and so many other places mobilised, stood and marched on January 21st. It was an instant cry out to show resistance to the recently elected President Trump and his government. There were women and men defending equal rights, believing in a progressive world, tainted by social inclusion and human equality. Trump’s election has had an immediate impact on minds across the world and across continents. It is an existential and historical crisis that means the fallout of the value of gender equality.

Even though the Women’s March of 2017 was in the short-term triggered by Trump’s inauguration to the US presidency, it consisted of much more. It suggested the merging of all values that democracies cherish most. It is the demonstration that women and men share the will to fight for equality. To prove, for example, that the 99%, facing the governing top 1% owning the total GDP of the Cote d’Ivoire, have a voice and must be listened.

“Trump’s rise to power is intrinsically antagonistic to development around the world. The US may no longer serve as a successful model for the developing world.”

Trump has reiterated the ideas of misogyny, sexism, and the limited power of women in society. Trump created his scandals by inferring that men can “grab women by the pussy” and “do anything”, shaming of CNN’s host Megan Kelly, and the constant promotion with zero setback of the objectification of women as well as the punishment of women choosing abortion. Despite all this, he still got elected. Women went to the streets to show their disgust. It is less the man elected or even the people he chose for his government, than the values he upholds, that are in turn imitated on the streets and in our homes, turning difference into intolerance, exclusion and violence. Women, as a result, feel like advocates as they associate themselves to the safeguarding of progressive rights and respect for women. They demonstrate an entitlement to propose the right way to go forward. The hashtag #FreeMelania was bragged by marchers drawing hope for future, picturing women of the US, but also more generally, symbolising being trapped by Trump’s rise to power. Trump is a misogynist and ready to dismantle everything that made the country great. The fact that he is now access to the most powerful seat in a country, supposed to protect the values of tolerance and liberty, is mad. Proximity is what is feared the most. His election means that democratically, the people of America wanted him. The Women’s March is thus not about Trump himself, but more broadly about a part of the country that let him through despite the disgrace and shame he exhibited for the past months. It is about protesting a system that profoundly undermines the true choices and fundamental rights that a woman should have.

It was a callout for resistance against extremism and populism taking the easy way out, for which signing executive orders will correct the world. If the US still embodies the world’s keystone for development, social progress, poverty eradication, and gender equality, how can India possibly solve its problem of women violence and victimisation? Trump’s rise to power, which has been called a “step backward”, is intrinsically antagonistic to development around the world. The US may no longer serve as a successful model for the developing world. Having Trump as a president suggests that governments in poorer countries, traditionally looking up to the US, will become indifferent about raising the issues of social progress, equal human rights, tolerance of gender, race, religion, nationality and opinion.

By Hanaé Taxis