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“Why I’m joining the women’s march this weekend”

Three women share their stories

More than 200,000 women are expected to descend upon Washington on Saturday, the day after the US presidential inauguration, to march in support of women’s rights.

But what started as a single Facebook post has now transformed into a global movement, and tens of thousands are expected to turn out to march in cities around the world – including in Sydney.

The Women’s March Sydney starts at 11am on Saturday 21 January in Hyde Park. For more information click here.

We spoke to three women who will be marching on Saturday.

“We can’t be complacent”

Erin Riley, journalist

The day before the 2016 US Presidential election, I bought a bottle of champagne. I’d just had a baby daughter, and I hadn’t had any alcohol yet, but I pumped some milk for her in preparation. This was the moment I’d be waiting for. The moment the first woman was going to be elected president of the United States and I was going to enjoy it, damn it.

As the hours went by and the vote count came in, my excited anticipation quickly turned to anguish. I had been so confident, right from the start, that there was no way Donald Trump could possibly win the presidency.

The day of the US elections is memorable for so many reasons – not least of which is the sobering lesson I learned, in recognising my own hubris. In the world I believed in, this just couldn’t happen. The cost of the complacency of myself and others was starkly apparent. And there is no reason at all to believe that things can’t also get worse here.

So when a friend invited me to get involved with the Women’s March on Sydney, it was a very easy decision. I’ve happily donated my time to making a public statement that we will fight against the hatred, the bigotry, and the restriction of the rights of women and minorities that has been so frighteningly present in politics around the world this year. I’m trading in my champagne for a megaphone. No more complacency. It’s time to get to work.

Erin Riley (Credit: Supplied)

“When Trump was voted in, I cried”

Dr Rebecca Sheehan, Program Director of Gender Studies at Macquarie University and a visiting fellow at the United States Studies Centre


“I’ll be marching this weekend with my daughter. We’ll be meeting friends there with their daughters. It didn’t initially occur to me to invite my partner but now he and all his friends want to go too.

Why am I marching? I feel as though I can’t afford not to. There’s an old saying that goes, “The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to stay silent”. I feel as though we can’t afford to stay silent.

I do think we have issues with sexism here. We still have problems with female representation at the highest levels of government. We still have issues with unequal pay in Australia.

Some people might think that a march like this is “just symbolic”, that we’re not actually changing anything. But I think that if people march in cities in the United States and around the world, then we become visible – and not just visible to the wider world but visible to each other.

When Trump was voted in, I cried. I felt endangered. I think that he is potentially a war monger… I think he will push back environmental progress…I also think about my daughter’s future.

On the morning of the election I said to my five-year-old daughter, “The United states is going to elect its first female president today”. And then I had to go and say to her “Donald Trump is president”. She just looked at me really sadly and said, ‘Maybe next time’.

That’s what I mean about symbolism – symbolism matters. Representation and visibility matter and that’s why I will march. I want to be seen to be taking part.

Rebecca Sheehan (Credit: Supplied)

“I’m concerned about female reproductive rights” 


Ayebatonye Abrakasa, march organiser


“I found out about the march through one of the founding organisers, who knew it would be something that I would be passionate about. As a woman of colour, I’m very passionate about women’s rights, immigrants’ rights.

I’m marching because I’m concerned about the whole idea that female reproductive rights were going to be taken away.

But it’s not just about women’s right themselves; it’s about immigrants, minority groups, refugees… It’s about representation for women within parliament, within every industry… the way people of colour are treated, racism issues, Indigenous issues…

To anyone who is thinking about marching, I would urge them to come along, and not just women. I urge everybody who believes that women should have equal rights and have the right to their own bodies then they should all come along. It will be completely peaceful. Just come along for a good cause.”

Ayebatonye Abrakasa (Credit: Supplied)

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