If the Facebook estimates prove accurate, more than 195,000 people will descend on Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017 to attend the Women’s March on Washington the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. Their reasons for marching are varied, but together they aim to send a strong message to the incoming administration about the importance of women’s rights ― and thousands of them will be men and women of all ages who have never even thought about participating in a march or political rally before.
“The people who have never marched before are the people we’re really excited to have... alongside the dedicated, experienced activists,” Bob Bland, a national co-chair for the march told The Huffington Post.
“They’re the people who need to be off the sidelines in order to not have what I consider to be this recent national tragedy,” she continued, “and I think they’re going to make the difference.”
Here, 14 first-time marchers tell their inspiring reasons for heading to Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March.
“I’m a passionate feminist...[and] I was too young to vote.” ― Celia, 17, Md.
I’m a passionate feminist and an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington D.C., but I’ve never marched before. I was too young to vote in the election, but I canvassed for Hillary Clinton and made phone calls for her campaign until 6:45 p.m. on election night.
After the election I was devastated and searching for what I could do. What I realized is I can say is, “Look. I do not accept that the fate of our country is to embrace conservative ideas and return to the past.”
I come from a strong line of women who stand up for what they believe in. My great great grandmother, Celia, died of an abortion in 1917. Her daughter knew her mother died unjustly and stopped every single day to drop off cookies for the police officers who were working to keep the (then legal) abortion clinic in her area safe. My grandmother worked as a librarian, and my mom works in affordable housing policy. All of these women have pursued what they believe in, and I am excited to march in their honor ― with my mom. She was a little worried I would be freezing [laughs], but I have a warm coat.
“I’m gay, scared and I want to be a part of history.” ― Diana, 27, N.Y.
I’m attending the march with my partner because I’m gay, scared and I want to be a part of history. The day after the election, three young white men came up to her and started yelling “Trump!” I went to a few of the protests in New York City and posted about it on Facebook, and I got horrible backlash, mostly from men I don’t know. I’ve also had extended family comment on some of my political posts. One went on a rant cursing all over my page. But I’m not going to make myself small to make others feel comfortable.
I actually have been to a march before, but not really by choice. When I was 15, I attended a Christian high school that was very pro-life and I did the March for Life. I was really afraid of hell and I had some sense that I was queer, so I was absolutely terrified. I went to the march because I felt like God would love me if I did. I remember holding up a big sign with all these photoshopped images of dead fetuses. It was traumatic.
When I went to the protests right after the election I held up signs with sayings from feminist leaders, and it felt so different. Even with all the threatening comments I’ve received online related to my appearance and my intelligence, I’ve never regretted speaking out, not once. I’ve been really scared for a lot of my life, but that hasn’t got me anywhere. So I’m taking a stand.
“I see this march as a way to make myself visible in the movement against Trump.” ― Summana, 31, N.Y.
On election night, I was sick to my stomach and I immediately thought, “What can I do?” I voted, but it wasn’t enough. I see this march as a way to make myself visible in the movement against Trump, to make sure he doesn’t ruin the country.
I’m going to take the bus in for the day. So far, I’m going alone, but I’m trying to convince my mother and some friends to come with me. Either way, I feel like I have to march because I’m frightened. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I don’t wear the hijab, but I think a lot about why my reaction would be if I saw someone else being harassed. I’m a protector and I worry about how defensive I would get.
I’m very excited not only for this first march, but to be part of a movement. I’m not just a woman. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I represent a lot of different groups and to me, this is about sending a message about civil rights on a broader scale.
“I have fibromyalgia and I have a really hard time walking, but I am getting a prescription for a walker.” ― Stacy, 42, N.Y.
I’m a middle class white woman so I’m not subject to the level of xenophobia and racism we all saw during the election, but I feel it’s important to people who are marginalized that they see millions of people across the country making it clear that we celebrate them. I want the people who now think they have a right to say negative, hateful things to know they don’t have the loudest voice, and they don’t represent America,
I have fibromyalgia, and I have a really hard time walking. Like, anytime I go somewhere there is a good chance I will fall and end up on my face. I work from home and on most days the most I walk is to the bathroom and back. But I am getting a prescription for a walker with a chair. I have used one at home once, but never in public before. This will be my first time in a public setting really clearly stating that I have some physical challenges.
From a physical standpoint, I’m scared out of my mind. Just the bus ride is going to be difficult. I’m going to Philadelphia from upstate New York, then it’s another five hours to Washington D.C. But even if I don’t walk much, I need to be there. I’m scared about how hard it is going to be on me, but I’m even more scared about the possibility of letting voices of hate be louder than my own.
“We will show our children that love always wins.” — Robin, 43, and Sidney, 38, Mass.
Robin: My husband and I will be marching, along with our son, who is 7, and our daughter, who is 5. We had a two-week vacation planned for January and changed our dates so we can go. The cost of that will be pretty minimal ultimately, but we will miss time with family we’d been planing to visit. We quickly decided it would be well worth it.
Sidney: I feel like it’s my obligation to support my wife and to be a man who stands up for women in these times. We’re taking alarming steps back in the fight for women’s rights and equality. I don’t want our side to falter. We need to stand up against belligerent cynicism and misguided machismo.
Robin: It will be amazing to have my husband and children there. Our kids are very interested in politics, especially our 5-year-old daughter. She loves Hillary and was only one of two in her whole school who knew who both candidates were ― and she’s in pre-school!
My dad’s mom, who was white, marched for civil rights and women’s rights, and my mom’s mom, who is Japanese, raised three kids, moving from Japan to America by herself. She was the strongest woman I’ve ever known. They both taught me to fight for your rights, and to stand up for those who can’t. We are so worried about a Trump presidency, and will do anything in our power to fight his agenda and protect others. We will show our children that love always wins, and that their voices can and will be heard.
“I’m a single mom. I want my daughter to see that I’m fighting.” ― Ellie, 41, Minn.
I’m a single mom. My daughter is 12. I definitely think that electing a person who so blatantly, obviously doesn’t respect women sets a tone that threatens women of all ages. I’m very vocal with my daughter about my expectations of public servants, and I tell her that having public leaders conduct themselves in the way Donald Trump has is not, and should not be normal. It is not OK.
I want my daughter to see that I’m fighting. I’ve sometimes wondered if I would have participated in the original March on Washington or the Vietnam protests. Would I have shown up? When I heard about this march, I knew right away that I had to go. I really think we’re at a crisis point. I’m hoping this protest is very large and very loud.
“I’m definitely a Trump-generated, new-wave feminist.” ― Tristan, 17, N.Y.
I’m definitely a Trump-generated, new-wave feminist. As a teenage boy, feminism hadn’t been on my radar much before the election. But I had been a longstanding member of a social inclusion/anti-bullying committee at my school and was struck by the fact that had a student uttered any of Trump’s insulting comments, he or she would have been called out by teachers or fellow students.
I am going to march arm-in-arm with my amazing mother ― who I affectionately call “Commando Mom,” because she will go anywhere and do anything ― and my smart, independent 18-year old sister to send a message to Donald Trump. I ski on an Alpine race team and will forfeit a race that Saturday. I’ve been a ski racer for 10-plus years and ski season has always been untouchable, so my parents were pretty surprised that I chose to give up a race for the march. But they’re pleased with my decision to channel my disapproval into action.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor. I fear the day when they do away with the Affordable Care Act.” ― Megan, 38, Mich.
I am a 38-year-old mother of four and I will be flying to D.C. for the march with my sister, mother and niece. This election has brought out a fierceness in me that I didn’t know I had, mostly because of my children and my health. My kids are biracial (Korean and white) and are being raised in a small, mostly Republican farm community. My daughter has come home from school telling me that the kids there were afraid for her that Trump would “send her back to where she came from.” That really jarred me.
I’m also a breast cancer survivor. A lot of the women in my family are breast cancer survivors. We’ve always made it a point to get together and do breast cancer walks, but we have never done anything political. This feels big. I fear the day when [Republicans] do away with the Affordable Care Act, and my preexisting condition makes me ineligible for insurance. I want to send a message to politicians in D.C. that it is so important that we take care of women and support them with all the health care they need. Trump has no sympathy for anyone who may not have the money to insure themselves.
“I’m going to fight for immigrants in the United States and especially for immigrant women.” ― Ayli, 25, N.D.
I’m a first generation Peruvian immigrant. I came to the United States 12 years ago in February. I’m going to fight for immigrants in the United States, and especially for immigrant women. Previously, I was an undocumented immigrant, but now I’m a U.S. citizen so I want to use that privilege to help give others voice. It is my personal responsibility.
I knew right away that I wanted to go to the march, but as a student in North Dakota it was going to be a challenge for me financially. Fortunately, alumni from the graduate program I’m in offered to help cover some of the costs, so I’m going with a group of four students. We’re actually flying out of Canada because it’s much cheaper. It’s going to cost around $800 for the weekend, plus food, and we’ve managed to have about half of that cost funded.
I have a sense of hope that things will change, and I really think this country is great because of our diversity. In the past, I always wanted to be more active, but I couldn’t risk anything because I was undocumented. Now I’m legally protected in a way that gives me a boost to participate in honor of those people who stood up for me before. It’s my turn to give back.
“I’ll be marching with my mom who is 58 and also a first-time marcher.” ― Emily, 30, Mo.
I’ll be marching with my mom who is 58 and also a first-time marcher. I’ve always had strong political opinions, but I’ve kept them pretty close to the vest. I woke up on November 9th feeling like that had to change.
I’m so proud of my mom because she’s been busting down glass ceilings her entire career. I think I may have taken [Clinton’s] loss a little harder emotionally because I was so convinced we were ready for a female president, and she’d had the experience of being bested by men simply because they’re men. She was kind of like, “Yeah, well, this is the way the world works. Now we keeping fighting. We get back to work.”
I can’t afford to be silent anymore, and this march is a first step. It’s powerful symbolically, and it’s actual action. It’s hard to ignore 100,000 people marching down the streets Washington D.C. I feel a sense of obligation to our country to participate.
“I’m walking for my boys.” ― Juliette, 46, Colo.
I wasn’t immediately sure I wanted to march, because it’s not something I’ve ever done before. I’m active in a quiet way — I read, I donate, but I’ve never protested. After the election, I was literally heartbroken. I had been thinking all the hate was going to fade away, but when I woke up and knew Trump had won, I couldn’t shake it. And then I said I refuse to let this pain and anger and sadness make me completely immobile.
I am excited and I am nervous at the same time. I do have social anxiety, and that does come up when I think about the crowd, but I quell all of my anxieties with the thought of why I’m marching. It’s a women’s march, but I’m walking for my boys. With everything that has been going on with the shooting of unarmed black men, I have so much anxiety. My 15-year-old has been living overseas with his father in Nairobi. I realize I have so much anxiety about him coming home and I’m thinking to myself, “How can I be so uneasy about my child coming back to the United States of America?” That is real, that fear is real. I realize I need to do this for the boys so that they know that they matter, that they are just as valued as any other person in this country. I have to be a part of this change.
“I’m not a citizen so I couldn’t vote, [but] I have decided to apply for U.S. citizenship.” ― Sarah, 28, N.Y.
It feels almost like a human rights issue, to stand up to a bully who is now in charge of the American government. My dad immigrated here 20 years ago from England, and I’m not a citizen so I couldn’t vote. I have decided to apply for U.S. citizenship after this election. It feels like a moral prerogative now.
The march feels, absolutely, like something I have an obligation to participate in, not just as a woman, not just as an immigrant, but as a young adult who is frightened for the future of our country. I’ve never felt brave enough to say before, “No, America is my country, too.” But now I will be there, wearing a pussy cap a friend of mine is knitting, to stand up to injustice.
“I’m a woman, I’m Jewish and I’m a social worker who works with a lot of survivors of sexual trauma.” ― Allison, 40, N.Y.
I’m marching for many reasons. The main one is that I’m outraged. I’m a woman, I’m Jewish and I’m a social worker who works with a lot of survivors of sexual trauma, and I know that this election has been an ongoing re-traumatization for a lot of them. I know that, because I work with them. Invalidation of their experiences normalizes this behavior, and we just elected a man who not only has a track record of degrading women and who has been accused by many women of sexual assault, but who was caught on tape admitting to sexual misconduct. What message does that send? That it’s OK? It’s not OK. I feel like I have to do something for myself and for my clients.
There is strength not only in numbers; there is strength in community, in women coming together for a cause. I know from a micro level ― working with support groups ― how it can lead to a sense of empowerment, and from that comes action. This is how it begins.