On Saturday, January 21, a series of peaceful protests were held in cities across the globe. Called the Women's March, the gatherings were held to draw attention to the rights of women, as well as various other causes. These include healing Islamophobia (or fear of Muslims), and the rights of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi, and trans) community.
Getting exact numbers for such protests is difficult (no one is selling tickets—people just showed up on their own). But two days later, most estimates say that at least three million people attended marches in cities around the world. In the United States, the marches were the largest protests since the Vietnam War, which was over 40 years ago.
A response to a new government...
The timing of these protests was not an accident. Last Saturday was the day after the inauguration of America's 45th president, Donald J. Trump (on January 20). So the day after Washington, D.C., hosted its newest leader, about 500,000 people came to the U.S. capital to take a stand for the rights of themselves and others. At the same time, protests in cities across the country were held, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Jackson, Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta, Denver, Oakland, Seattle, Dallas, Fairbanks, Portland, Honolulu, Omaha, and many more.
Was this then a protest against Trump's presidency? That is part of it, but not all of it. A significant amount of people are concerned about how changes Trump has discussed bringing to government will negatively affect women's rights. In this way, this protest was a direct response to him to make him aware of their concerns.
...but bigger than just America alone
But there's more to it than that. Equal rights for women has been a major political cause for a long time, especially over the last 100 years. It is even more important in places where women have far less rights than they do in places like North America and much of Europe. In other words, Trump's presidency helped push people into action, but the concerns were there long before he decided to run for office.
That's why so many places outside the United States joined in the Women's March. This list includes Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver, as well as cities in England, France, Australia, Peru, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Hungary, Macau, Brazil, Belgium, New Zealand, Italy, Czech Republic, Norway, Spain... and yep, even Antarctica. And that's not even a complete list.
About respect, equality, and laws
What is the overall effect of such protests? They can't change any laws. Not right away, at least. But they do send a message to leaders all around the world. What is that message?
Though women's rights have come a long way in many places in the world, these issues still require attention. For one, in many countries, women still have few rights at all. But these protests are about more than just rights under law. For many who protested, it is just as important for people to think about the way that women are treated. It is about respect, equality, and laws.
Changing how a society works takes many years, not just a day. But the many women, girls, men, and boys who marched this past Saturday show how much people care and want to make the world a better place.