On Saturday 21st January 2017, WEN took part in the Women’s March in London. Staff, past and present, volunteers, trustees, and their friends and family joined together to make up some of the estimated 100,000 marchers on the day. With chants such as “together united, we’ll never be divided” and “this is what democracy looks like”, crowds gathered across the UK in solidarity with the anti-Trump protests in America. The biggest rally in the US took place in Washington, with a crowd of over 500,000 standing up for women’s rights and equality in general. Actress America Ferrera addressed the crowd saying that “we march for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war.” Speakers in London included TV Presenter Sandi Toksvig and Labour MP Yvette Cooper. The march sent messages of love and solidarity against Trump’s damaging politics of hate, seemingly more important than ever after his first week in office.
The image of an all-male room looking on as Trump signs the executive order to stop federal funding going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions has been widely disseminated across social media this week. Critics have pointed out that you’d never see a photograph of a group of women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs. The absence of women from this level of decision-making is worrying, with Trump’s cabinet attracting attention for its high proportion of white, male nominations.
Global health organisations have said that the ban will unintentionally lead to more abortions and more deaths across Africa, the continent which carries the biggest burden of unsafe abortions due to the socially conservative nature of many of its countries. The International Planned Parenthood Federation regional office in Africa said that it will lose up to £80million ($100million) in US funding for vital sexual and reproductive health services across the continent. Not only does this pose significant health risks to many women, but denies them the fundamental human right of choice over the treatment and use of their own bodies. The provision of reproductive rights empowers women, typically leading them to have smaller families, contributing to the relief of the pressure the rising population is putting on the planet. The denial of such rights is therefore detrimental both to women and to the environment. The Dutch government has hit back, setting up an international fund to support abortion services harmed by the cut in US foreign aid, asserting they would do everything in their power to help women to “remain in control of their own bodies”.
The Women’s March also included an environmental message with the event page stating that "we unite and stand together for the dignity and equality of all peoples, for the safety and health of our planet and for the strength of our vibrant and diverse communities”. Protests took place across all seven continents, including Antarctica where a group of international people on an expedition ship set up their own “pro-peace, pro-environment and non-political” march with signs reading “penguins for peace”. One of the most encouraging aspects of the Women’s March in London was the large number of families and children participating, giving hope that the future of world politics will one day transcend division and hate and will stand together for the equality of all peoples and the health of our planet.