The Women’s March took place in London last Saturday, bringing together proud feminist activists to speak out against injustice and advocate for peace.
This year’s theme was ‘Bread and Roses’ – a protest march against Austerity and how it acts as the common denominator in the rise of economic oppression, violence against women, the gender pay gap, racism, fascism, institutional sexual harassment, hostile environment and Brexit.
Hundreds of women took to the streets to sing and shout and raise vibrant placards to communicate their outrage at our Government’s failure to protect women and those most vulnerable in society. The stage was filled with a broad range of speakers, women speaking out about intersectional feminist issues ranging from sexual violence, domestic abuse, institutional racism, sexism, ableism to name just a few. The consensus was clear that austerity makes all of this much worse.
Our own CEO Mary Mason spoke at length about what is at stake.
‘Only a minority of women who face abuse get the support they need. The Government continuing to cut vital services are cutting opportunities for women to escape abuse. Last year women and children lived in violent and abusive relationships for over eight years before reaching our services. Cuts to refuges, cuts to legal aid, to welfare benefits and housing, were paid for by women’s lives. Our systems must change, our politicians must represent us and until then we will continue to challenge the patriarchy, racism and discrimination which shapes too many of our lives. Together we will create that change.’
Though the numbers were smaller this year than in previous years, it was vastly encouraging to see a large proportion of young women out in droves, giving us hope that the next generation see these issues as relevant and vital for the advancement for our society.
It is unity that is key here. We know that when we unite we create change. We only have to look at the Women’s Suffrage movement to secure the vote, the landmark protests against sexual violence in India and Argentina, Iceland’s monumental gender pay gap walkouts and the Repeal the 8th campaign in the Republic of Ireland to name just a few.
Visually it matters, it shows our government and wider society that we have a critical mass. We are not isolated in our viewpoints or our motivation to take action. We can mobilise quickly and more fervently than ever before, and our efforts are broadcasted and archived for future viewing.
It is not just legislation that changes as a result of our mobilisation, so does public consciousness. When we began to categorise our experiences into #MeToo or #TimesUp or #EverydaySexism we were granted the knowledge that we are not alone. Despite inevitable backlashes, we can see that people are changing their language and their behaviour. By taking issues that collectively silenced women for so long and shouting about them in full force, we formed a shared goal to not let it happen again, not to us, and not to any other woman present or future.
Whether you choose to use your voice on the streets or online, never stop believing that it counts