Millions of women will be taking to the streets around the world the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration to demand equality for all - but there’s a “huge reason to be optimistic”, says the leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP).
Sophie Walker says that while she will never characterise the election of the billionaire businessman as a “good turning point”, it is a turning point “in terms of the next wave of political feminism and activism”.
She told The Huffington Post UK: “There is a huge reason to be optimistic here.
“The one good thing there is in Donald Trump is that he’s very, very clear about what he stands for and we are past the point now of having to argue whether misogyny is real or sexism is real or discrimination against women is actually happening. Thank you to Donald Trump, we can see that this is a very real threat.
“What we are seeing at the Women’s Equality party is a rise in our membership prompted by that understanding that now is the time to stand up and act and I am fully confident that that will not be the end of it when that march ends.
“The reasons to be cheerful on Saturday are that we are seeing a massive resurgence now of political feminism and activism.”
The organisers of the march taking place in London, which at the time of writing had more than 26,000 women listed as attending on Facebook, say that while this is not a specific demonstration against Trump, his election was the catalyst for the idea, which began in Washington DC and has spread around the globe.
Organiser Emma McNally, a London-based artist, told HuffPost UK: “Trump was really a tipping point for this. As you know the rhetoric through the presidential campaign was also hugely divisive and this is an opportunity to just get together and say ‘enough is enough, we have come to the end of our tether with this sort of political manoeuvring and we wish to stand together for justice, equality, respect and dignity’.”
But Walker explained that Trump, who has been strongly condemned for his derogatory comments about women in the past, poses a “real threat to women’s rights”.
She said: “The WEP is absolutely marching to reject the rhetoric of Donald Trump.
“On his watch already we have seen a rise in misogyny, we’ve seen a rise in racism, we’ve seen a rise in sexism.
“There is, I think, a real danger that this stuff becomes seen as acceptable and to some degree it already has.
“The man who was a serial assaulter was elected president regardless. He poses a real threat to women’s rights.
“Not only does he do that but he part of a rise of right-wing populism which threatens to roll back some very hard-won freedoms for women and to make it much harder to progress in those areas where we still have massive, massive work to do in terms of representing the needs and experiences of, for example, women of colour, women with disabilities, understanding the specialist needs of all different kinds of women. We’re not a homogenous mass.”
There are currently more than 600 marches planned around the world.
A huge number of high profile figures have pledged their support, including Alexa Chung, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Charlotte Church and Bianca Jagger.
Women’s Equality Party co-founder and comedian Sandi Toksvig will MC the rally in Trafalgar Square at the end of the march.
The London march begins in Grosvenor Square, where the US embassy is situated, at midday on Saturday.