Thousands of women have turned out for the global Women’s March in London despite the heavy rain and sleet, one year after millions marched in seven continents.
Across the road from Downing Street and stretching back past the memorial to women in the second world war, protesters chanted “Time’s up” and “We want justice not revenge” on Sunday.
Organised by Women’s March London, whose protest a year ago shut down central London, it was named the Time’s Up rally in honour of the campaign launched in January by women in Hollywood to counter sexual harassment in the entertainment business and workplaces following the Weinstein scandal and #MeToo movement.
The Labour MP Stella Creasy gave one of the most fiery speeches. Calling the houses of Westminster “Hogwarts gone wrong”, she called for more women to run for office.
Creasy said: “A year ago, everyone told us this was a flash in the pan. They said women will march and then they’ll go home and nothing will change. That’s the point. Everything has to change because #MeToo isn’t just some hashtag, it’s saying we’re not going to cope any more, we’re going to change the rules.”
She said gender parity in parliament and local councils was crucial, adding: “We have so much further to go.”
She announced that a Time’s Up fund would be set up in the UK, similar to that launched in Hollywood, so women could have access to money to fight legal costs.
There were women and men of all ages and backgrounds in the audience.
Bea Miller, holding a sign that read “I rebel therefore we exist”, said: “I’ve been fighting for equality for women for as long as I can remember and feel like the time is now for women to finally smash the patriarchal system that keeps us all – men and women – oppressed.”
She added: “I think it’s fantastic that so many people have come out in this awful weather and we’re just saying ‘no more’.”
A group of 13- and 14-year-olds were also in attendance. One of them, Yuri Watanabe, said: “Women are being oppressed everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t even imagine. We came here to represent.”
Her friend, Zara Khan, said: “When you go to work it should be a professional environment and you shouldn’t be abused. So many women can’t say anything because of the power over them. It’s important to raise awareness and show support as women.”
Towards the end it began to snow and the words on many handmade signs were running. One protester held a placard showing support for transgender women. Marie Dalle said: “A lot of my friends are trans women and I see how they suffer each day. There is a problem in the feminist movement and we need to accept they are women and take into account their experiences.”
Holding the sign up, she said: “I made this because I want to help trans women be heard here.”
Nearby, Tsedenia Skitch, a volunteer with Equality Now, said she had come in spite of the bad weather because she felt like people were finally listening.
She said: “My sign is completely disintegrating, but I wanted to stand in solidarity with everyone and fight for women’s rights. It’s really in the public consciousness at the moment because of #MeToo and the campaign at the Golden Globes.”
Emma McNally, one of the core organisers of both marches, said Sunday’s rally went brilliantly.
“We’re so pleased to see everyone out in great numbers on a day when the weather is absolutely atrocious, but that just says it all. Time is up. People are sick of it. We’re constantly being sold there is no alternative, but we’re not having it any more.”
She believes people will look back on this as a historic moment. “So much has happened in the last year. It’s been a very powerful year. The conversation has been opened up and things are being talked about in the mainstream that wouldn’t have been a few years ago. It’s also a powerful moment for feminism, which is becoming intersectional, which is exactly how it should be and the speakers we had are on the frontline of that.”
Credit: The Guardian