Women's March on London: Vital to stand together for human rights, women's rights and against hate
“Feminist and social justice movements have made huge gains over the years but there is still a long way to go…it is as important now as ever to come together and send a strong message that we will we not tolerate a rolling back of human rights, and that we will continue to fight for equality until we achieve it.” Kate Allen
Amnesty International will be taking part in the Women’s March on London tomorrow (21 January) in solidarity with all people around the world whose human rights are further threatened by the repercussions of recent political events in the UK and the USA.
The march, taking place the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, is organised and led by women and is for everyone – whatever gender, age or background - who wants to stand up for human rights, women’s rights and against hate. It mirrors a major demonstration in Washington, as well as many other ‘sister marches’ set to take place around the world on Saturday.
Amnesty has expressed serious concerns with Donald Trump’s campaign proposals - including threatening to punish medical professionals who carry out abortions, creating a Muslim registry and banning Muslim refugees - as well as his rhetorical attacks on women, people of colour, people with disabilities, LGBTI people, activists, journalists and many of his critics. Meanwhile, in June last year Amnesty announced a new emergency campaign to combat racism and xenophobia in the UK, prompted by reports of a rise in hate crimes after the EU referendum.
Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said:
“When those in powerful positions make derogatory and offensive remarks against certain groups of people – women, refugees, migrants, LGBTI, people with disabilities for example – the message it sends is that discrimination is acceptable. It is not, never has been and never will be.
“Feminist and social justice movements have made huge gains over the years but there is still a long way to go. With the divisive politics of the last 12 months on both sides of the Atlantic, it is as important now as ever to come together and send a strong message that we will we not tolerate a rolling back of human rights, and that we will continue to fight for equality until we achieve it.
“Human rights and women’s rights are hard won and at this critical time it is vital to stand together to celebrate our gains and against discrimination and division. The politics of fear have no place in 2017.”
Despite momentous successes in some countries over many years of women’s rights struggle, including access to abortion, laws to end violence against women and an increase in the number of women in positions of power, women and girls around the world continue to face serious abuses of their human rights.
Northern Ireland & Ireland, for example, have some of the world’s most discriminatory & punitive abortion laws, forcing women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or whose foetuses have no chance of surviving outside the womb, to continue with their pregnancies unless they travel to Britain for a termination. In El Salvador, harsh and absurd abortion laws mean women there can be jailed for up to 40 years for having a miscarriage.
Up to 3 million women in the UK experience some form of violence each year, while women’s refuges in the UK are being forced to turn away two in three survivors of violence due, in large part, to lack of funding. Meanwhile, rape and sexual abuse are frequently used as weapons in conflict zones. The lack of stability and security in so many countries around the world leaves women and girls, in particular, more vulnerable to violence.
Refugee women and girls are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation on their journeys to reach safety and in the countries where they finally settle. Amnesty has interviewed refugee women & girls in northern Europe who travelled from Turkey to Greece and then across the Balkans. All the women described feeling threatened and unsafe during the journey, with many facing sexual abuse and exploitation.
Amnesty is committed to the fight for women’s rights, the right to make decisions about our own bodies, and to end violence against women and girls - in the UK and around the world.
Amnesty youth activist Olivia Hamblett, 16, from Stratford-Upon-Avon will be coming to London for the march on Saturday.
“I’ve been really upset and angry recently and worry about what might happen next. I can’t vote, so I have no way to say things,” she said. “I hate that we still have to protest for basic human rights. At school we did Romeo & Juliet, and discussed forced marriage like it was a thing of the past, but it’s still happening today in places like Burkina Faso.”
On the subject of the rise in hate crimes in the UK and the election of Donald Trump, she said:
“I refuse to be scared by it. It could be a step backwards, but then it could also be a positive chance for people to be more proactive.”
Kieran Aldred, advocacy officer at Amnesty International UK, will be marching because he believes men should turn out to “support the human rights of women and be allies in any way we can and in the ways that women want us to.”
“Men often have or attempt to have a dominant voice in social justice activism so it’s important now that we act to challenge that and have women leading and men following,” he said.
“Women in minority groups are often the ones most affected by discrimination, be that racism, homophobia, transphobia or prejudice against women living with HIV or a mental or physical disability. When we tackle injustice for women we achieve justice for everyone.”
Cara Sanquest, a committee member of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign which calls for the repeal of the 8th amendment from the Irish constitution and for access to free, safe, and legal abortion in Ireland and Northern Ireland, will also be on the march.She said:
"We’re all so shocked and horrified by Trump, and what he has said about defunding Planned Parenthood and abandoning abortion rights, but he’s said that in cases of rape or where a woman’s health is at risk, he would make an exception - the law in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland makes no such exception, it’s more extreme.”
Cara would like British people to be more aware of the prohibitive laws which force huge numbers of Irish women to make the costly journey to Britain - despite Northern Ireland being part of the UK - to receive health care most would consider a basic human right. She said she will be marching for these women, showing that the movement is “strong, organised and committed”.
The Women’s March on London is taking place on Saturday 21 January.
12:00- March assembles Grosvenor Square W1
12:30- March moves off. Route goes via Park Lane, Piccadilly, Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square. There is a short route point on Pall Mal
14:00- Rally begins at Trafalgar Square
15:30- Rally ends
Speakers at the event will include Akeela Ahmed, Stella Creasy MP, Sajeela Kershi and Natasha Walter, as well as Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen.
Numerous organisations are supporting the event, including: Action Aid, Amnesty International, Unite, Liberty, The Equality Trust, CND, Pride London, Black Pride, Greenpeace, Runnymede Trust, Fawcett Society, WEP, The Green Party, Oxfam International, Democrats Abroad UK, Unite the Union, Solidarity with Refugees, Women of the World, NUS, British Scientists for the EU, She Speaks We Hear, Women 4 Refugee Women, Women in Leadership, Verve UK, Daughters of Eve, and Women’s Aid.
More information about the march can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/160520691084922/