Just a day after his inauguration, hundreds of thousands of people have marched in Washington DC and many other US cities to protest against President Donald Trump and to send a message about women and minority rights.

The event involved a broad coalition of different groups – all uniting their concerns about the new president, his plans for America and for women in particular.

The Women’s March for Rights drew unexpectedly large numbers with as many as 500,000 people participating in the Washington DC rally, according to estimates by city officials. It sparked more than 600 solidarity rallies all over the world.

One of the demonstrators in Washington, Sally Cooney, from New York City, said she was terrified that Trump did not care about global issues and was going to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

She further said she was terrified that women’s reproductive care is an issue again on the table and that education is going to be privatised.

“The most vulnerable among us are the ones truly at risk and this government is for the richest one percent,” Cooney said.

Bob Gruen, 69, and his wife Susan Gruen, 68, pose for a photograph during an anti-Trump protest rally for women in Washington DC, US, on January 21, 2016. Susan says she is proud of her husband “for being a man and coming out and speaking out about women.”

Another woman, Susan Gruen, 68, said she was “totally opposed” to Trump as president.

“I’ve been in Europe over the last few weeks and they were all asking about Kaiser Trump. And I told them if he were elected I would stand for every woman and every man that wants to talk about freedom and wants freedom in America,” she said.

Her husband, 69-year-old Bob Gruen, said, “You can either sit and do nothing and wait for all this bad stuff to come raining down on us, or you throw down a marker, and you say no.”

Born on Social Media

The Women’s March began on social media, with a simple Facebook post from Hawaii grandmother and retired lawyer Teresa Shook to about 40 friends – but word traveled quickly and the event took on a life of its own.

Thousand of people posted pictures and videos of the march with the hashtag WomensMarch trending on Twitter.

Social and economic justice issues motivated the marchers. The march was in some ways political, but also drew on what some American women feel is an existential peril for their hard-won rights.

“I don’t feel like our voices were heard during the election, and this is a chance to stand up for what we believe in and what I want the world to look like for my daughter. I want there to equal rights. She’s a woman color and I want her to be treated with the respect that she deserves. I want her to have power over her own body, and make an equal wage to men,” said Kelly Cornell, a new mother pushing a stroller in Washington.

“He doesn’t represent me, he doesn’t represent the majority of Americans. He has the option to start listening to the majority of Americans, or he’s not going to be around for very long,” she added.

“Sister Marches” 

So-called Sister March organisers estimated 750,000 demonstrators swarmed the streets of Los Angeles, one of the largest of Saturday’s gatherings. Police said the turnout there was as big or bigger than a 2006 pro-immigration march that drew 500,000.

Some 400,000 marchers assembled in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, though organisers put the number there at 600,000.

“Women won’t back down,” “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Thank you Trump — you turned me into an activist,” read some of the thousands of handmade signs held aloft in Washihngton.

The Chicago event grew so large that organisers staged a rally rather than trying to parade through the city. Police said more than 125,000 people attended, while sponsors estimated the crowd at 200,000, the same tally they reported for Boston, and Denver.

Smaller protests were held in such cities as Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Madison, Wisconsin, and Bismarck, North Dakota.

“Sister marches” were also staged in Sydney, Tokyo and other cities across Europe and Asia, as an act of solidarity against what the demonstrators see as the authoritarian policies of Donald J. Trump.


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