The first Women’s March on Washington took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration; the second was on Jan. 20, 2018. Both marches happened all across the world, the first in close to 675 cities and the second in around 250. The goal of the marches was to rally millions of women around the world and draw attention to issues such as sexual assault and harassment, the wage gap, women’s healthcare rights, racial inequality, and LGBTQ rights. They were all-inclusive, inviting people of any gender as long as they supported women’s rights.
I went to both marches; last year, I took a few days off of school to fly to Washington D.C., and this year I went to San Francisco. If you kept up on the 2017 march, you probably read that there were about 500,000 people in Washington D.C. From the perspective of someone who was there, though, that feels like a severe understatement. The main path of the march was completely flooded with people, so the marchers and I had to extend our path to the side-streets. Four streets over in either direction, there was a throng of people so thick that the news helicopters could not see the ground. The pictures they took in order to count the people were only of the National Mall, which does not include the side streets. If you ask anyone who was present at the march how many people were there, they would say that they wouldn’t be surprised if there were almost a million people.
Each step was a small one; we walked about two miles in five hours. Nearly every person around us was wearing a hand-knitted pink hat with cat ears.
That first march was an amazing experience, and the most memorable one in my life so far. Often marches can get violent easily, so my mother was afraid of encountering possible gun violence. But there was none of that. If you even bumped into someone, they would apologize and even compliment your hat. Everyone I met was kind. There were people from all over the world; I even talked to a women who, by some coincidence, had heard of Pinewood and grown up right here in Los Altos.
The most magical part was the march itself, coupled with the opportunity to experience a city I’d never been to before, especially considering the first impression it gave me. I felt a certain sense of power, like my voice meant something. I was surrounded by people who agreed on all of the issues I was marching for, and who, just like me, were longing to have their voices heard.
The second march gave off a similar feeling, but it was watered down. This was likely for many reasons: fewer people came, and I was in a city which wasn’t the center of the march. I did get to see San Francisco from a new perspective and still feel the adrenaline from the countless other people around me empowered to use their voices.
The purpose of the march was not to impeach Donald Trump, as many believed, nor even to protest his inauguration. It was to protest for the equality of women, as well as all other oppressed groups. And that is why I am proud to say I was there.