WOW. A good word, but so incredibly inadequate, limiting and impersonal for what I think about the women’s march in London. For days after, my Facebook feed was deluged with photos and amazingly open, empowered thoughts and feelings about what was created on Saturday 21st January 2017. On the day, I was in awe, covered in goosebumps and filled with an impossible sense of pride at what we were achieving together. I fell in love with how our individual issues of difference were put aside and replaced with unity and love. At times, I was almost paralysed by the overwhelming sense of community and support that filled the posts and articles from around the world, all matching with my own personal experience. More than a week later, I’m still filled with a sense of pride that I was a part of the march’s legacy. I’m also honoured that I was able to be a part of it.
On the train, I had a fleeting moment of dread and fear about the march. Not twenty-four hours beforehand, an individual drove erratically through the streets and footpaths of the central business district of Melbourne, rocking my hometown. His driving killed and injured adults and children on exact spots that I had crossed many times throughout my life. I’m not quite sure what linked the two thoughts - perhaps the huge crowds that I knew would gather - but I was gripped with the idea that someone could easily do the same here, in London. However, when I left the station these feelings disappeared almost immediately, replaced by an overwhelming sense of warmth and excitement. It felt like no one was expecting to see and experience what was created in that moment, in that space, together. The spirit associated with the march had already been created before we even started to walk.
The first time I heard the crowd cheer together, it hit somewhere deep inside me. It would have been impossible for anyone there to not feel it: a feeling so incredible that I don’t think any word exists in English, or any other language, that describes it.
Of course, the simple act of marching won’t change things. It hasn’t changed things in Trump’s first week as President - in the same week that the world was talking about the women’s march, Trump signed a huge number of executive orders. Many of these negatively affect women, not just in America but all around the world. HOWEVER, SOMETHING HAS CHANGED. And I believe that what has changed is far more powerful and important than preventing a President from adding his signature to a document.
It is no longer just me. It is no longer just you. There are now millions of people all around the world standing with us, supporting us, urging us on, providing encouragement to change the society, culture and world we live in. When you stand up against a sexist comment at work, it’s no longer just you but over five million people at your side. When you’re cast aside for a project because you also happen to be a mother, it’s no longer just you but over five million people encouraging you to speak out and to challenge that decision. When you’re not being treated the way you deserve or when you’re too scared to speak up and have your voice heard - there are more than five million people now standing behind each and everyone of us. I believe that this is a fundamental part of the spirit and legacy that we created at the women’s march. This will create a massive shift in the world. If we continue to act together, it will no longer matter whether a Head of State, in any country, has signed a piece of paper or not.
Before I finish, let me share with you a couple of my fellow Fourth Wavers’ thoughts and feelings on the march:
“The atmosphere was incredible – it was the first big women’s march I’ve attended and there was something really powerful about doing something like that with so many women. It was also great to see such a diverse crowd, in terms of gender, age race. I just hope that this isn’t the end of it, that all those people don’t go home and think “Well, I’ve done my bit”. It was a great way to show politicians that people give a shit about women’s issues and that they’re not happy. But there is a hell of a lot more work to be done!”
“I loved the atmosphere and the sheer numbers. Seeing the police cordons trampled to the ground as the march spilled past them was incredible. It really felt like we had taken back the streets. I hope many of the first time protesters come back and march with us in the many many battles ahead.”
We have so many battles ahead, so please don’t make the women’s march your last. There are so many things to be angry about at the moment - just think about what we could do if all those people kept coming back!
Together, we have created a legacy full of love, support, community and spirit which we can unite behind. This legacy is so powerful, it can be relied upon both individually and collectively to make a real difference, to shift the world on its axis. To change lives and limitations placed on women around the world. Together, we can shatter the foundation that our current patriarchal system rests on.