Donald Trump’s presidency has begun, but many Americans still want answers to questions that have been building since the election campaign, especially around human rights. The Women's March on Washington took place the day after the inauguration and is believed to be one of the largest protests in American history. Inspired by gender inequality issues and Donald Trump's statements about women and minority groups, it all started as a social media page, which rapidly turned into a powerful movement supported by all kinds of activists and ordinary citizens.
The idea was initially formulated by Theresa Shook, a retired attorney from Hawaii and a mother of four, with the aim of making it a pro-women march, which exists to address a strong message about women's labor and human rights that need to be tackled by the government. The Facebook page went viral after different groups' representatives offered their support and help in its organization.
It has been estimated that well over 1 million people marched across the world, with some 500,000 taking to the streets of Washington alone (with several media outlets using pictorial evidence to show that this crowd was bigger than Donald Trump’s inauguration itself). It was more than just a US demonstration too, with 100,000 people marching in London and thousands more marching in Berlin, Paris, and even in cities across Africa.
The focus of these marches was to protest against the anti-women statements made by Donald Trump and his advisors throughout the controversial presidential campaign, but may have consequences that reach far further and impact the lives of women every day.
This has had real world consequences to women in the workplace too. The Westport Weston reported on a sexual assault by Republican politician Christopher von Keyserling, who reportedly said ‘I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct’, shortly after the election. It has also emboldened trolls on the internet who have taken to social media to directly abuse people who speak up against gender discrimination.
Despite the clear threat that a new administration has on elements like equality and reproductive rights, it is in the workplace where many equality issues manifest themselves. This is everything from the average 13.9% gender pay gap through to the glass ceiling that appears to exist for many. The millions of women and supportive men marching in the street were protesting these elements as much as what’s been said by the new President.
This kind of mass action gets attention, with every major media outlet in Europe and the US covering them on their front pages. This attention spreads throughout the world and with the January 21st protests likely to be the first of many over the next four years, a President who has been widely criticized for his approach to women’s rights, may end up publicizing them more than any other president in history.
We are still a long way from gender parity in the workplace, but through these kinds of actions, where millions of voices protest equality in the streets, colleagues, bosses, CEOs, board members and even Presidents cannot plead ignorance.
Join over 100 female leaders at the Women In Strategy Summit, taking place in New York this March 21 & 22.