Hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, one day after President Donald Trump was sworn in to office, making it one of the largest mass mobilizations after an inauguration in recent history. And more than 100 solidarity marches and protests are taking place around the world, including an estimated gathering of 100,000 protestors in London. All told, an estimated 3 million to 4 million people participated in the protests worldwide.
Estimates and D.C. Metro ridership data put attendance at more than 500,000 people, suggesting Saturday’s protest saw a significantly larger turnout than Trump’s inauguration the day before.
The Women’s March started as a decentralized movement organized primarily online in response to the election of Trump, but it quickly mushroomed into a massive mobilization. The march is not explicitly anti-Trump. Instead, it’s intended “to send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” according to the mission statement online. The organizers of the march emphasized that any and all “defenders of human rights” are welcome to attend.
On stage in D.C., iconic feminist leader Gloria Steinem opened the march with strong words for President Trump and described the events as the beginning of a movement. “When we elect a possible president, we too often go home. We’ve elected an impossible president and we’re never going home. We’re staying together and we’re taking over,” Steinem said.
“This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life,” she added.
In addition to the overarching feminist theme, the event attracted activists in favor of a wide range of causes. People at the march showed their support for the environment, LGBT rights, anti-gun violence, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform.
Since its grassroots beginnings, the Women’s March has attracted the support of some prominent organizations and female leaders. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America. and the ACLU are sponsors. Civil rights and feminist icons Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem are honorary co-chairs. Democrat Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand plan to attend the march in their home cities of Boston and New York, respectively.
The march is expected to be bigger than the inauguration itself. Less than 400 buses received permits for Friday’s ceremony, compared to the 1,200 permits given by the city for the Women’s March the following day.
The hashtag #WhyIMarch has helped to spread the word about the march and increase its visibility in the weeks leading up to it.