“WATCHING the inauguration was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen,” says 20-year-old student Natalie. Currently studying abroad in Paris, she is one of the hundreds to arrive at the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme (‘Human Rights Plaza’), facing the Eiffel Tower, in sub-zero temperatures.
“We will march on January 21 in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, because defending women’s rights in the United States is defending them in France and the world over,” reads the Facebook event description.
Following the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States, countries all over the world held host to Women’s Marches, not just in protest of Trump, but also against the racism, bigotry and sexism that he has come to embody.
“I think today, especially because we’re in Paris and not in the US, shows a lot of solidarity with women and against Trump,” Natalie says. The scores of posters bobbing around seem to agree with her: a Democrat flag and spirited, witty anti-Trump posters wave above us. We may be in France but this is undoubtedly a very American march.
“I think the range here today is actually quite incredible,” says Lucy, 16, who currently attends high school in Paris. “We have a lot of Americans but we also have a great turnout of French people, which is surprising.” Of Trump, she adds, “It’s just not right… so we are protesting against it.” Is this her first march? “Yes… I’ve never done anything like this before.”
Neither has 8-year-old Charlotte, who holds a poster almost as big as herself. “It says FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!” she tells me.
In the crisp air, dotted with bright pink hats to match those in Washington, people take to megaphones before the march commences to chant slogans such as “Not my president!” and “My body, my choice!” After what many are considering an utterly bleak Friday, and particularly in a country where, as the Facebook event acknowledges, “there is real danger coming from several presidential candidates who threaten women’s rights”, there is a sense of hope that such pleas for progress are being spread the world over.
“She saw her friends with signs in the States posted on social media,” explains Charlotte’s mother, making the huge impact of the message of Women’s marches very clear. Despite loud chanting, as the march sets off, the atmosphere is warm.
So, does 8-year-old Charlotte think this is an important event? Should guys and girls get equal treatment and rights? She doesn’t hesitate. “Definitely.”