Though different publications are providing different figures, The Independent reports that between 3.3 and 4.6 million people walked and carried signs in the Women’s March, 750,000 in Los Angeles, 575,000 in Washington D.C., 450,000 in New York, 250,000 in Chicago and many smaller figures in other cities, making this the largest protest in American history.
At the march, women, men and children chanted slogans like “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Women’s rights are human rights!” and carried signs evoking images from Rosie the Riveter to Princess Leia or referenced things that Trump had said during his campaign, as in “Fury coming out my wherever” and “Hands too small can’t build a wall.” Though celebrities such as feminist Gloria Steinem and singer Alicia Keys gave speeches, only a fraction of the demonstrators were close enough to hear them.
The march’s mission statement reads, in part, “The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune called the march a response to the “presidential inauguration of a man who has breezily, relentlessly disrespected women and who is set to oversee changes in our laws that go beyond disrespect.” Senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group and former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy R. Sherman wrote in USA Today, “For me, the agenda is clear.
It is solidarity. It is saying to the new administration that misogyny cannot rule. Whether reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, an end to sexual violence, women in combat or the importance of girls’ education worldwide, we are here; we will not relent; we will not give up.”
The march did focus on traditional women’s issues such as reproductive rights but also addressed issues such as gun control and the environment from a female perspective. “Gun violence is a women’s issue,” attendee Amy Schumer posted online, “American women are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than in other high-income countries.
In an average month, 50 women are shot to death by a current or former partner in the United States. Approximately 4.5 million American women have been threatened with guns, and guns are the weapon of choice in domestic murders.” “A healthy environment is a basic right for all of us,” stated Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh.
The event organizers stated principles included “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education” and Planned Parenthood was the march’s single biggest sponsor.
“I think it’s important that a pro-life feminist voice is there. I am not going to protest,” antiabortion activist Abby Johnson told the Washington Post. “I am going to join in solidarity and to be honest, abortion is not the only issue I’m concerned about. I’m concerned about the pay gap. I’m concerned about the lack of women in the political arena. There are a lot of things that are important to me.”