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I Am Marching On Saturday Because I Refuse To Let Hate Win

20/01/2017 16:52
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

I'll be marching on Saturday because the first rule of making a change is to do something about it. I'll be marching to encourage all the people who have looked at the world lately and thought: "Someone should really do something about this" - to believe that on Saturday that person can be them.

I'll be marching on Saturday because I want to have a say in what kind of world I live in, and because I want that world to offer equal opportunities and choices to women of all races and ethnicities and backgrounds. My daughter who has autism won't be marching because the size and noise of the crowds combined with her sensory sensitivity makes it impossible for her. So I will be marching to represent her and I'll be marching in solidarity with all of the activists who work in other ways and in other spaces to make a change.

I'll be marching on Saturday because right now there are lots of people working really hard to create a world that is exactly the opposite of the one in which I want to live, and I don't want them to succeed. I want the people who care about equality to succeed. So I'll be marching in solidarity with them to demonstrate our shared commitment.

Frankly, I'd show up to march for all of these reasons on any day you name, as often as you like. Joining, building and leading the Women's Equality Party for the last 18 months has felt like a daily march for equality. My job is a day to day process of connecting women back to political power and their own agency. To making their vote count again.

But Saturday is a particularly good day to march because it's Donald Trump's first full day as President of the United States. And that matters to everyone around the world, not just in the United States, because Donald Trump openly advocates bullying, division and the restriction of equal opportunities. And that delights a whole lot of people, including many here in the United Kingdom who have used the occasion of a vote about our relationship with Europe to tell tall tales about the evils that are done by people who are different to us and to start building structures to keep them away. (For 'us', read: white, able-bodied men.) Too many people believe those tales because they fill a massive, echoing silence from other political parties on new ideas to make the UK flourish. And many who don't believe are keeping quiet anyway because the other thing that Trump and his bully boys encourage is the silencing of dissent by intimidation.

I know that when I march I will be offered up for ridicule and abuse as someone who doesn't understand the struggles of ordinary people. It is a measure of the success of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage that the billionaire and former city trader who posed together in a gold elevator can successfully label women, LGBT+ people, people of colour, people with disabilities and migrants - all so discriminated against - as somehow the 'elite.' I know that any criticism I make will result in an immediate ratcheting up of hate and discrimination: "You keep calling me nasty and I'll show you how nasty I can be: So if I'm nasty, it's your fault." It is the classic behaviour of an abuser.

But I refuse to be intimidated. I refuse to stand by while ideas of equality are smashed up by a gang of protectionist thugs masquerading as activists for justice. I challenge absolutely any idea that there is a majority of people in Britain or in America who want to live this way. I believe the differences between us make us stronger and I want to learn more about those differences and find them a place in the fabric of our nation. I refuse to let hate win.

I am marching on Saturday because I am optimistic. Because I will always look outwards and seek to unite. I want to protect human rights - the rights of women to make their own choices about their own bodies and to have equal opportunities for work and pay. I want to protect the rights of vulnerable people and reimagine the value of migrants and refugees. I want economic and social good for all, not just for some. And I am optimistic because I think 2017 will be the year that millions of women will mass and mobilise and bring about great change. This year, feminism will become a powerful political force again. Saturday the 21st is just the start of it. See you there.

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