Why You Should Be at the Women's March This Weekend

Get in formation! People around New Zealand will join forces on Saturday to kick off worldwide sister marches with the Women’s March on Washington

Sandi Beatie from the Working Women's Council, photographed in 1981 before a march in support of the Working Women’s Charter. Picture / NZME

We were the first to win the right for women to vote – and on Saturday morning, New Zealand women will be the first to march as part of a global wave of activism and in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.

Described by the organisers as a women-led grassroots movement to stand up for justice and equity, the feature march in Washington comes the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.

The idea for the march was sparked in the days after Trump’s win, following the most divisive US election in history. The focus of the march is to promote equal rights for women and to defend marginalised groups.

The march’s mission statement explains:

"The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonised, and threatened many of us - immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, native people, black and brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault - and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

"The Women’s March on Washington will 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.”

Marches in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and a rally in Dunedin, will kick off worldwide sister marches with the Women’s March on Washington. More than 616 marches are planned around the world, with over one million people registered to attend. Everybody is welcome, regardless of gender. 

“It was clear from week one this was going to be a global movement,” global co-ordinator Evvie Harmon said in a statement. “It's like the women of the world were sitting on a powder keg and Donald Trump lit the match.”

Many high-profile activists, celebrities and fashion designers have voiced their support and intention to march in the US this weekend. Iconic activists Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte are honorary co-chairs, with Gloria set to speak alongside everyone from Michael Moore to actress America Ferrera.

Even Beyonce - who famously does not speak publicly about much beyond promotion of her work - is supporting the movement, posting to Facebook earlier this week about the march:

"Together with Chime for Change, we raise our voices as mothers, as artists, and as activists. As #GlobalCitizens, we can make our voices heard and turn awareness into meaningful action and positive change. #WomensMarch."

At Saturday’s Auckland sister march, Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, broadcaster Alison Mau, political commentator Tracey Barnett and gender and sexuality academic Dr Pani Farvid will speak. In Wellington, speakers include investigative journalist Nicky Hager and climate change activist Aaron Packard.

New Zealand has a history of female-led activism, from marching for suffrage to win the vote for women in 1893 to protests in the 70s and 80s fighting for equal pay. Today, New Zealand’s gender pay gap is the worst it has been in years, with the New Zealand Herald reporting in October that it had risen since 2012 to 12 per cent in June 2016.

In a video for Viva, Jacinda Ardern explained why she will be marching.

"I'm marching both for solidarty for women and women's rights to make sure that hard-fought gains aren't lost. I'm marching because I want to make sure that we're never complacent about women's rights, and that we remember that there are things we haven't achieved yet.

"We have a massive gender pay gap in New Zealand, we have terrible violence against women - and these are things we need to keep fighting for."

The Details:

Saturday January 21
Meet outside the US Consulate Auckland, 23 Customs St. East, Auckland CBD.
Register your attendance at Eventbrite.

Saturday January 21
10.30am- 12pm
Meet outside Parliament, 1 Molesworth St, Thorndon
Register your attendance at Eventbrite.

Saturday January 21
Meet at Victoria Square, Cnr Colombo & Armagh
Register your attendance at Eventbrite.

Saturday January 21
Upper Octagon

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New Zealand Herald

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