"When I urged women of the world to join the fast growing Women’s March on Washington (WMW) in my Nov 15 blog – a week after the U.S. election – I could not have foreseen the scale of international support or the newly galvanized women’s movement that would evolve by the start of 2017.
Today the WMW is set to be the largest march of its kind as hundreds of thousands of women and men plan to take to the streets on January 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the President of the United States. As well as the leading national march in Washington DC and another 200 U.S. city marches, there will also be at least 50 cities in nearly 30 other countries participating and more are organizing each week for the Women’s March Global (WMG).
But less than nine weeks ago, within hours of the presidential election on Nov 8, the WMW was a mere seed of an idea posted on Facebook by Hawaiian grandmother, Teresa Shook, who simply said: “I think we should march.” So how did this grassroots movement strike such a universal chord? Since becoming more involved behind the scenes of the march planning, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the original national and international organizers and seeing up close how things have taken shape.
WMW co-founder and global march coordinator, Evvie Harmon, recalled the first hours after seeing Teresa’s idea following the election result:
For the first 48 to 72 hours it was growing exponentially. It was insane and Teresa said: ‘Evvie, you know I think it’s a wonderful idea but it’s just me in Hawaii. Can you help?’ I was like, I’ve never mobilized anything larger than my own state to march in my state. I’ve never mobilized anyone to DC, but I think what we can do is try to motivate people in their own portions of the United States to mobilize themselves. I immediately created a South Carolina event page for the Women’s March on Washington and I sent it to her. I said I am going to mobilize my state to DC and I’m also going to get some sister marches started.
Within days, news of the march went viral on Facebook. During the first week, organizers connected and mobilized – tens of thousands of American women signed up on the national Facebook page to march on the capital. As many more were signing up at a growing number of marches across the US, the first overseas sister rallies were already being mooted as a core group of global organizers formed: Marissa McTasney (Canada), Karen Olson (Switzerland), Kerry Haggerty (UK), Rebecca Turnbow (Australia), and Brit-Agnes Svaeri (Norway).
By now, the national march was well underway and gaining momentum fast, soon settling on a march name and attracting a formidable team of co-chairs: Bob Bland, Linda Sarsour, Tamika D Mallory, Carmen Perez, and more recently appointed honorary chairs, Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte..."