2016 seems to have been pretty universally proclaimed a very dark year for us all. Every day we turned on the news and were increasingly overwhelmed by the stories being reported: Aleppo, the refugee crisis, austerity, the rise in hate crime, the rise in the rhetoric of division and fear, the spectacular ineptitude of our politicians to get past self serving agendas and rise to the challenges. So many felt ignored, left behind, invisible - that they didn't matter.
Online commentary on Facebook, Twitter, across social media intensified in anger, frustration, derision, hopelessness. It became increasingly obvious that social media was largely helping to spread division not helping to ease it or to find answers.
The election of Donald Trump was the tipping point.
The Women's March is an attempt to create the conditions for different sorts of conversations than the ones that exploit fear and uncertainty and lead to division and social turbulence. It is an attempt towards opening up a space where we can come together, think together, act together for the benefit of us all. We will effectively resist forces of greed and oppression only by coming together and standing for dignity, equality and human rights.
We're expecting there to be many single-issue, laser-focused political actions in the year ahead. Women's rights are being seriously threatened along with the rights of so many. We will need to galvanise and mobilise to effectively fight back. We will need to broaden the scope of our concerns and stand by members of our society who are threatened because of poverty, race, gender - and for all the other reasons people's lives are made precarious.
The Women's March on London will be an opportunity to get offline, get out on the streets together and to be strengthened by each other to fight back. From the start of planning the march we have made every effort to reach out to individuals, groups and organisations from all areas of social struggle. We have received wholehearted support and commitment and there is a growing sense of excitement at what could be possible.
This is an exercise in alliance building, network building and we are hopeful that we can learn new strategies together to generate a brighter future for us all. We hope that to come together at the start of 2017 will help us to generate the strength, hope and commitment we need to be politically engaged in defence of all our rights, in defence of justice.
Now is definitely the time to act.
As part of this blog, running up to the march on Saturday 21 January, we will be inviting representatives from the groups we are working with to say something about their participation as well as updates from the organisers.
I'll start with sharing these words:
"Pride in London is the UK's largest celebration of diversity and inclusivity. We exist to promote equality, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, faith, ability or sexuality. We stand alongside the organisers of the Women's March on London, in solidarity with women everywhere, and in defence of the rights that some would deny us. We will be proudly marching on January 21st, under the Pride in London colours, grateful that we live in a city where being a woman is far less of a struggle than it is in other parts of the world, but also mindful that there is still work to be done here to achieve proper gender equality." - Alison Camps, Co-Chair, Pride in London
We would love to invite you be in contact if you would like to get involved. We want to use this opportunity to open up a many-voiced space where we can think together constructively how to build a more equal future. Any strong ideas will help us towards generating a real legacy.
As part of this attempt towards building a legacy we are also inviting young people to be in contact to share their thoughts about what a more equal future might look like, how that could it be achieved. We are inviting responses to the following questions:
What do you want as a citizen? What angers you about the world you live in? What would you say to world leaders if you were given time with them? Do you think world leaders are fighting hard enough for equal rights and human rights? What gives you hope for the future?
Playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz was the first living female playwright to have a play on at the main stage of The National Theatre. The play was about the Suffragettes. Rebecca is currently working with Steve McQueen on a groundbreaking series about racism in 70s Britain. We are very excited that she is going to work with the answers generated by these questions to shape two texts. The first will be a short statement. It will be read out in front of the American Embassy at the start of The Women's March on London 12 noon Saturday 21 January. The second will be longer and we will share online and it will act as a potent manifesto of the youth to help us go forward.
Please get in touch if you would like to share your thoughts and help share this text. We are aiming to have responses in by 9th January so there is only a few days!
In the meantime, please join us and SPREAD THE WORD!!