Hundreds of thousands of women and their male supporters have turned out for the second Women’s March, a US-wide series of protests against President Donald Trump marking the end of his tumultuous first year in office.
The coordinated rallies in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and about 250 other cities featured speakers who blasted Trump for policies that many said hurt women and urged voters to turn out for congressional elections in November. Sister rallies were staged in cities overseas.
“Your vote is the most powerful tool at your individual disposal,” actress Eva Longoria told the Los Angeles rally. “Everybody who has the privilege of voting must do so.”
Trump responded on Twitter by touting what he said were economic gains of the past year that benefited women.
“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March,” he wrote. “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”
Joblessness among women was 3.7 per cent in December, below the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent, according to the Labor Department.
Even so, Katie O’Connor, a 39-year-old lawyer from Knoxville, Tennessee, who travelled to Washington’s National Mall, said she wanted Trump out. “I don’t believe this administration is going to do anything good for women,” she said.
Many of the protesters wore pink knit “pussy hats,” which were created for last year’s march as a reference to a comment made by Trump about female genitalia.
Saturday’s march follows what many see as a pivotal year for women’s rights, with the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media campaigns against sexual harassment and misconduct. The movements sprang up after a string of scandals involving powerful men in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere.
Many of Saturday’s speakers highlighted the theme of sexual assault.
“When it happens to a girl, it often means that she has to stand alone,” actress and model Olivia Munn said in Los Angeles, referring to sexual assault. “We will always support you, stand beside you, so you don’t have to stand alone.”
Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Eric Garcetti estimated the crowd at 600,000 – making it the largest in the country.
In Washington, Democratic leaders addressed a gathering that appeared much smaller than the massive crowd that flooded the nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration.
“So while we have this president celebrating his one-year anniversary, let’s give him an ‘F’ (grade) for his performance,” House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said while flanked by fellow Democrats. “We don’t agonise, we organise.”