WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Women marched on Saturday in hundreds of US cities. UU And abroad to commemorate the second anniversary of the demonstrations that took millions of protesters to the streets the day after the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump in January 2017.
The March of Women, a national non-profit organization that evolved from the initial march in Washington, again organized its main event in Washington, with hundreds of "sister" marches in other cities.
March On, a separate base coalition that also grew from the original march, coordinated hundreds of marches in cities such as Boston, Houston, Baltimore and Denver.
Leaders of both groups said they would use this year's marches to push the policy related to minimum wage increases, access to reproductive health and voting rights, among other issues. Her goal is to mobilize women to vote before the 2020 election, when Trump is expected to be the Republican candidate for president.
"There's definitely a huge, big focus on the 2020 election," said Natalie Sanchez of March On, organizer of the 2017 Boston Women's March that also participates in March Forward Mbadachusetts, which organized Saturday's march there.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who launched her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination this week, addressed the women's march in Des Moines, Iowa, the state that holds the first nomination contest and acts as a testing ground for the aspirants to the White House. She told the crowd that the march of 2017 was one of the most influential political moments of her life.
"Now is the time to set aside. Our democracy only works when people like you stand up and demand it, "said Gillibrand.
Kimberly Graham, 54, a lawyer in Des Moines, said attending the march there two years ago gave her hope after Trump's election left her dejected. Her enthusiasm for seeing so many women and minorities win mid-term election races has inspired her despite the defiant Republican Senator from the United States, Joni Ernst.
"It has given me a lot of hope that things will change." Which is darker before the light, "said Graham.
Activists say the marches were an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the 2018 elections, which saw more women elected to the United States Congress than ever before.
The newly elected women, almost all Democrats, include the first Muslim women and the first Native American women in Congress, as well as the first black women to represent their states in New England. Many cited Trump's presidency as one of the reasons why they decided to run for office.
As the political movement that grew out of hundreds of unaffiliated marches in 2017 grew, divisions emerged.
In some cities, such as New York and Washington, there was more than one march or rally due to criticism that some leaders of the Women's March are anti-Semitic, a position that leaders have tried to dispel in interviews and recent statements.
Leaders of March and March of Women on say that there is a role for all and that divisions in leadership have not downplayed the general movement.
Julie Wash, 57, a librarian in Saratoga Springs, New York, said that the leader of the March of Women, Tamika Mallory, who has faced her support for the leader of the Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan, is being held at a different standard from Trump and other leading whites
"There is a level of responsibility we need to keep the white men of the establishment if we want Tamika Mallory to comply with that rule," Wash said.
Wash arrived at the Washington march with his friend Nan Sullivan, 65, who owns a business in Saratoga Springs.
"Give us the whole table, do not give us a seat, just give us the whole table, get out of the way and we'll clean up the mess," Sullivan said.
The marches have also been criticized for being unwelcoming to conservative women, who can support the Trump presidency and oppose abortion rights. The March for Life March of Life annual march took place in Washington on Friday, which was attended by Vice President Mike Pence.
Report of Amanda Becker and Katharine Jackson in Washington; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson in Des Moines; Edited by Colleen Jenkins, Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler