On Saturday, I’ll be joining the Women’s March on London. It’s part of a worldwide movement protesting against the politics of hate that are bubbling up across the West, encompassing so many issues that I’m passionate about, and I’m proud that I have the opportunity to be part of something to show that we won’t sit back and watch it happen. That Martin Luther King Jr quote, “our lives begin to end the moment we fall silent about things that matter”, is so relevant.
Many will say a march is pointless. I disagree. Those with power rely on the silence or weakness or disorganisation of their opposition. We need to show that we care, and we care in massive numbers. And for those who are disempowered or discriminated against, we need to show we stand with them.
I’m marching for equality for women. Many people think we have it; I’m very happy to discuss all the ways in which we don’t. I’m so tired of women being defined by their bodies and their gender first, and their minds and personalities and actions and abilities second. I’m so frustrated that many women will still have extra hurdles to overcome to get the same opportunities as men. I will not have my extraordinary nieces and goddaughter and the other wonderful little girls in my life placed at a disadvantage because they’re female.
I’m marching for everyone who is victimised and whose opportunities are limited because they aren’t straight white men without disabilities.
I’m marching for reproductive rights. In Northern Ireland – part of our nation – a woman doesn’t have the right to say what happens to her body. If she gets pregnant (however that happens, whether it’s consensual sex, rape or incest), her body becomes that of the state; the rights of the foetus override the rights of the woman. She will be forced to carry that child, regardless of risk to her mental, physical or emotional health. Women in America are rushing to get contraceptive implants before their access to all forms of contraception is threatened when funding is withdrawn by Trump’s government. This is madness.
I’m marching because climate change is a thing, and if one of the biggest countries in the world abandons its responsibilities, we all suffer. If one of the most powerful countries in the world is ignoring scientific evidence, that’s agreed by almost the entire scientific community, we’re all in trouble.
I’m marching because I’m privileged, and so many people aren’t, and I don’t know how to change the system that makes that so. I will not support the policies being put in place that make the rich richer, the poor poorer, and put families under so much pressure that they fall apart. I will not support the huge public sector cuts that make it even harder for people to escape domestic violence, to deal with disabilities or addictions or mental illness, to avoid falling into crisis, to stay on their feet and strive for more.
I’m marching because the hate and fear that’s engulfing our world right now has no place here. We will never move forward until we’re coming from a place where we believe in a better world, and when we actually take care of each other.
I’m marching because staying silent isn’t an option.