WASHINGTON Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the United States are expected to pack into downtown Washington on Saturday for a women’s march in opposition to the agenda and rhetoric of President Donald Trump.
The Women’s March on Washington, featuring speakers, celebrity appearances and a protest walk along the National Mall, was planned as a counter-argument to Trump’s populist presidential campaign, in which he angered many on the left with comments seen as demeaning to women, Mexicans and Muslims.
It comes the day after the nation’s capital was rocked by violent protest against Trump, with black-clad anti-establishment activists smashing windows, setting vehicles on fire and fighting with riot-gear-clad police who responded with stun grenades.
The protests illustrated the depth of the anger in a deeply divided country that is still recovering from the scarring 2016 campaign season. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. party.
The organizers of Saturday’s march said they had extensive security plans in place, and would have both visible and hard-to-spot security workers along the route.
The event, the brainchild of Hawaiian grandmother Teresa Shook, was intended as an outlet for women and men who consider themselves feminists to vent their frustration and anxiety over Trump’s victory. It spotlights the fierce opposition Trump faces as he takes office, a period that is typically more of a honeymoon than a hatefest.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump had the lowest favourability rating of any incoming president since the 1970s.
Women reached by Reuters gave a host of reasons for marching, ranging from inspiring other women to run for office to protesting Trump’s plans to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which among other things requires health insurers to cover birth control.
Overall, the women said they hoped to send a unity message to Trump after a campaign in which he said Mexican immigrants were “rapists,” discussed banning Muslims from entering the United States, and was revealed to have once bragged about grabbing women by the genitals and kissing them without permission.
“It’s a lot of things: To protest the administration that’s coming in and the blatant disrespect for women and people of colour,” said Whitney Jordan, 28, who works in retail in New York and said she was coming to Washington on a bus organised by Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health organisation that is the march’s biggest sponsor.
Another march participant, Carli Baklashev, a stay-at-home mother of five boys from Missouri, said, “I want to resist the ideology of everything that he stands for and teach my children that, you know, love, empathy and inclusion and diversity are a staple of who we are.
Trump’s team did not respond to a request for comment about the march.
During his inauguration speech on Friday, Trump vowed to work for the good of the U.S. worker, saying, “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
Celebrities such as the musicians Janelle Monae and Katy Perry – both of whom supported Clinton in the election – are expected to take part in Saturday’s march. Women have knitted pink cat-eared “pussy” hats, a reference to Trump’s claim in the 2005 video that was made public weeks before the election that he grabbed women by the genitals.
Dozens of groups representing myriad issues joined together to sponsor the march.
Shannon Watts, the head of pro-gun control group Moms Demand Action, said her organisation will send more than 100 marchers.
“Gun violence is a women’s issue,” Watts said. She said women in the United States are 16 times more likely to be the victim of gun violence than in other high-income nations and that studies have found 4.5 million women have been threatened at some point with a gun.
Groups including Emily’s List, which supports Democratic women candidates, said the election had already spurred increased turnout at classes to train women to mount campaigns for mostly low-level political offices.
“I want it to be energizing,” Erica Eisdorfer, 59, of Carrboro, North Carolina, said of the march. “Nothing is going to change on Sunday morning, nothing will have changed … but I think the people who wish it were other will be energized.”
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler)