On January 21, over 600 women’s marches were held around the world with an estimated 4.9 million people voicing their concerns on women’s healthcare, immigration, voting rights, paid family leave and equal pay for equal work, among other issues.
Some of us in the U.S. and in London joined in these marches as part of a larger effort to stand up for values we care about. This is not a one-day commitment. We think that it is important to take concrete actions, such as taking on meaningful pro bono work or participating in the political process, to carry the momentum forward.
Though there was a sister march in New York, many New Yorkers (including us) felt it was important to attend the Women’s March on Washington. Participating in the D.C. Women’s March was not for the faint of heart. Buses left from New York for D.C. in the middle of the night, and people spent hours in lines for public transportation into D.C. The number of people at the rally point in D.C. was staggering. The planned march route was cancelled because the 1.5 mile route was already filled with marchers.
But despite the cold, the spirit of the crowd was buoyant. Locals gathered along the route from the bus terminal to the rally and cheered the marchers on, handing out coffee, water and other supplies. The crowd was diverse in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and origin - members of a knitting club from Michigan handed out extra pink hats, members of a Native American tribe burned sage and sang tribal protest songs, and people in wheelchairs were helped along and given first priority on crowded train cars. We saw children attending the march with multiple generations of their families, all leading chants (“Show me what democracy looks like?”; Answer: “This is what democracy looks like!”). We found strength, energy and inspiration in one another, and in coming together for one day.
– Sarah Garvey-Potvin and Laurah Samuels
An estimated 80,000 - 100,000 people descended on the UK’s capital in solidarity with the sister Women’s March in Washington, D.C. to take part in a two-mile walk that ended with a rally in Trafalgar Square. It’s interesting that such a huge protest took place in the UK, because the UK currently has two female leaders – both our Prime Minister (Theresa May) and head of state (Queen Elizabeth II) are women. I think what resonated with the UK marchers was that the Women's March was not just about American issues, but rather global issues. Equality for women should be equality for everyone. As in the U.S., protestors spanned generations, with men and women alike taking a stand and showing their solidarity with women all over the world. The London March was one of unity and a celebration of diversity.
– Ellie Mends
Walking among the sea of people participating in the march in New York, I was struck by the diversity of the crowd. Each one of these people - of disparate backgrounds, ages, races, religions - was compelled to wake up that morning and head to midtown Manhattan bonded by a common belief: that gender equality remains a salient, critical part of our shared community. There were 400,000 stories out there, and I’m proud to have been one of them. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a “marcher” (whatever that means), but that day it seemed like the right place to be, and the call to action that inspired millions of people to take to the streets has stuck with me ever since.
– Kate Zvonkovic
Sarah Garvey-Potvin and Laurah Samuels are associates in Debevoise’s New York office and Ellie Mends is an associate in Debevoise’s London office. Kate Zvonkovic is the Manager of Alumni Relations & Special Initiatives.
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