With the rise of Trump and his anti-feminist rhetoric hanging in the air like a bad smell, women’s movements and activism seem to be gaining momentum, and this year’s march had the high profile speakers and thousands of attendees particularly fired up.
For the first time, the Mayor of London partnered with Care International to organise the march, with ever-popular Sadiq Khan not only delivering an impassioned speech – drawing on Barack Obama’s famous lines: “I might be shorter than you thought but this is what a feminist looks like” – but closing down the historic Tower Bridge for the marchers.
Further words were delivered at the rally at the Scoop, outside City Hall on Southbank, by Helen Pankhurst, Bianca Jagger – “We have not achieved gender equality. Time for a revolution” – and singer Annie Lennox. Plus, a panel discussion, hosted by Gemma Cairney with Ethiopian refugee Marchu Girma, Syrian refugee Muzoon Almellehan and her father Rakan, and Care chief executive Laurie Lee brought attention to the burgeoning refugee crisis.
Emeli Sandé’s pertinent lyrics in an emotive, bare bones rendition of Read All About It (“I wanna sing, I wanna shout / I wanna scream ’til the words dry out / So put it in all of the papers, / I’m not afraid…”) sent tingles, not attributed to the cold, down spines.
To really get things going, a star-studded troupe engaged the crowd in a mass karaoke of Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT, including none other than original girl power rep Melanie C, alongside VV Brown, Kate Nash, Preeya Kalidas and Natasha Bedingfield, with their range of incredible female vocal talent belting out the empowering words.
Through intermittent downpours, men and women of all ages then marched with the stars and modern-day suffragettes across the bridge. Many chanting, “nonetheless, she persisted” and brandishing placards, not only with the Care International tag line but the brilliantly humorous phrases Trump first inspired at the Women’s March on the day of his inauguration. Indeed, the sentiment seems to be, as expressed by Annie Lennox, that if Trump has done nothing for us, with comments like his locker room banter (“grab -em by the pussy”), he’s given the women’s rights movement something to rally against: “in a funny way, the Donald Trump statement is almost helpful as a catalyst”.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 6th March 2017. Photos: Matthew Pull
The March4Women took place on 5th March 2017, for further information visit here.