On Saturday January 21, the largest protest in U.S. history took place, with an estimated 2.9 million Americans participating. The Women’s March gathered hundreds of thousands on every continent in sister protests, who took to the streets to show their support for women’s rights, and their opposition to President Donald Trump. Trump has been accused of several cases of sexual misconduct and unwanted physical contact with women. Disturbingly, he has even been caught on tape condoning sexual assault and “grabbing [women] by the pussy” without their explicit consent.
From the 500 thousand who marched in Washington, to the 28 in Antarctica, the Women’s March drew international attention to the feminist movement, and to the inexcusable actions of President Trump.
The Women’s March in Toronto received a turnout of over 60 thousand people, gathering initially in Queen’s Park, and marching down to City Hall. When entering Queen’s Park, the turnout to the march appeared rather abysmal. A few women, hanging around the statue of Edward VII in the centre of the park, didn’t seem promising. Further down the path, however, was a steady stream of people walking further, and around the front of the Ontario Provincial Legislative Buildings—we decided to follow. Turning the corner of the legislature, we were greeted by women handing out blue and red buttons, all of which read “Ask Me Why I March,” with the date and name of the march along the top.
Behind these women stood thousands of others, all crowded together on the muddy grass. It was impossible to tell how far back the crowd went, but it certainly carried all the way from the Legislative Buildings back to Queen St. from what I could see. There was a stage set up towards the front of the crowd, with amps and a microphone, and a CP24 van parked just to the right.
The speeches began at noon, and carried on until 1 pm. And, despite being such a large crowd, everyone was silent to listen to what was being said. The first speaker was an Aboriginal woman who asked the crowd to acknowledge and respect the land that we were standing on. She was followed by the organizers of the Toronto March, who spoke about how the creation of the protest came about, and why they each chose to march. Some speeches mentioned Trump, some didn’t. What was important to many at the march was that this was not necessarily meant to be an anti-Trump protest, but a pro-equal rights movement. Exactly at 1 pm, the organizers asked everyone to join in a moment of silence before the march itself began.
The process of getting from the very front of Queen’s Park to Queen Street was long as we waited for the people closest to the roads to start walking into the streets. But, it gave us time to read some of the signs around us. There were messages very pointedly directed at President Trump “This Pussy Grabs Back,” the popular “Girls Just Want to Have Fun(damental Rights),” pictures of Carrie Fisher with “ A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” written on them, “Nasty Women” references, among hundreds of others. We walked down Queen Street, waving to the people watching us from their offices, taking pictures and videos as we went. Eventually, we found ourselves packed in at City Hall, crowded around the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square. There were a few more speeches to be made, and at around 3 pm, the crowd of an estimated 60 thousand people started to disperse.
The Women’s March brought together people from every part of the world, in a unified movement to acknowledge what people like Donald Trump seem to so often ignore: that everyone deserves equal treatment, and that we refuse to sit in silence. It was a powerful statement by a large group of women and men united for the cause of equality.
Image curtesy of Sakib Shabab.