The Women’s March Through the Eyes of Girl Activists

Read more Ms. Marches posts here. Join the Ms. Marches Facebook group to find protests—and feminists!—near you.

On Saturday, January 21, an estimated five million people marched worldwide to support girls’ rights and women’s rights in light of the regressive and dangerous language, planned policies, and proposed nominees for this new administration under Donald Trump. People from all walks of life, identities, and experiences attended with their action-provoking posters and pink “pussyhats” to stand up against the racism, bigotry, ableism, xenophobia, transphobia, and sexism perpetuated by Trump’s administration, including hundreds of Girls Learn International student leaders and alum from around the country.

Students protested in marches in many different towns around the country – like Traverse, MI, San Diego, CA, Rochester, NY, New Orleans, LA, Park City, UT – and marches in larger cities that saw attendance levels soar to 500,000-700,000 attendees – like Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and D.C. They were there to let the new administration know that this generation of youth activists will not allow leaders like Trump to diminish their rights and dictate how they think, as well as affirm that intersectional activism – as outlined in the official Women’s March on Washington organizers’ “Unity Principles” – must be at the forefront of our efforts as we move forward.

“We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”

During several of the marches, Girls Learn International student leaders and staff, under the direction of our parent organization Feminist Majority Foundation, volunteered to sign attendees up to receive alerts from the Feminist Alert Network in order to continue the momentum after the marches were over. It’s important now more than ever to keep the movements going and to continue to take action for equality by encouraging people to join the Feminist Alert Network.

In their own words and images, GLI student leaders and alum talk about why they marched and what they envision for our inclusive movements for equality moving forward.


Photo by Miriam Ellis at NOLA Women’s March with Chapter members Genny Haylock, Lucy Currence, Marlee Jackson, and Margot Koch

“My friends and I are marching because we want to remind everyone that just watched the inauguration that our president encouraged and laughed about sexual assault. We don’t want them to forget that he called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” and Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy.” We want everyone to know that we will not be degraded, assaulted, or demeaned and we demand equality and respect as citizens of America.” – Miriam Ellis, Louise S. McGehee High School (LA), NOLA Women’s March


Photo on the left by Miriam Ellis with Chapter members. Photo on right, of Chapter members Jordan and Paige Sentino who were asked to join the stage at the NOLA Women’s March, taken by The Times-Picayune.


Photo by GLI alum Lauren Rothschild at Women’s March Boston

“The women’s march was an amazing event and definitely one of the best moments of my life as an activist. The show of support domestically and globally was truly outstanding. It made me extremely hopeful that people will continue to come out to support marginalized folks in the future and look more deeply into the value of intersectional activism.” – Lauren Rothschild, Northeastern University, Women’s March Boston

“On Saturday I’ll be marching in Boston, Mass with my parents and my sister (who is also in GLI). I think it’s important for me to show up and for anyone at all to show up because numbers matter. If millions of people show up all around the country to say that they’re not ok with their rights being infringed upon, then people will take heed. I hope it will be a wake up call to Trump and others who thought this would be easy.” – Jane Thomas, Louise S. McGehee High School (LA), Women’s March Boston


Photo by Urooba Abid at the Women’s March NYC

“The NYC women’s march was an experience I’ll never forget. Seeing so many people act on their political and social convictions was unbelievably empowering. As a proud immigrant girl, I attended the march to show my support for equal rights for all people – regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. My only hope is that the march inspired fellow activists and citizens to join in the movement and speak out.” – Urooba Abid, Farmingdale High School (NY), Women’s March NYC


Photos by Susan Lin of Kathy Zhuo (right) at the Women’s March San Diego

“We march to guarantee human rights for everyone, regardless of religion, sexuality, race, or gender. I hope that we all see the Women’s March as a beacon of hope and a symbol of unity, and never stop fighting for what we believe in by being active in our communities.” – Kathy Zhuo, Canyon Crest Academy (CA), Women’s March San Diego


Photos by GLI alum and Wellesley College student, Izzy Gelfand (left and far right), at the Women’s March NYC

“I hope that these marches can make some real change. Since politicians are seeing that people aren’t going to take this, I hope that there can be some legislation, laws, etc. that can be put into effect.” – Anisa Isaac, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School (NJ), Virtual Attendee


Photo by Emma Kautz (left) at the Women’s March on Washington

“I march because fighting for human rights is my passion and my purpose on this Earth. I will hold a sign, yell loudly, stride unapologetically alongside my mother, my friends that I have known since 1st grade, and thousands of other people that, like me, believe women are power. I march because women’s health is vital to the health of a country, because my right to marry a woman I love should never be questioned, because women’s rights are human rights, and because my silence will not protect me.” – Emma Kautz, Liberty High School (PA), Women’s March DC


Photo by Marisa Umeh-Burchell at the Women’s March on Washington.

“Looking at history books, it’s easy to feel as if mass protesting for human rights is a thing of the past. However, as history repeated itself, every woman at the March on Washington realized they too would have to make a decision of what side of history they were going to be on. Learning about the civil rights protests in elementary, I always wondered if I would be a part of the crowd or watch from a distance. It was a pleasure to document and be apart of living history.“ – Marisa Umeh-Burchell, Diamond Bar High School (CA), Women’s March on Washington


Photo by Soemi Photavath at Women’s March on Washington

“I’m marching because I believe in uncovering prejudices. When we choose to embrace and learn from people of all walks of life, we find ourselves becoming worldly, decent people. An inclusive society is a loving society!” – Soemi Photavath, South Lakes High School (VA), Women’s March on Washington


Photo by Jenna Zucker (far right) at Traverse City Women’s March in Michigan

“Why I march – I march because of the women and girls who have marched before me and have brought us so far in history. I march for the girls whose voices are silenced. I march for the girls who do not have the ability to march.  I march for my grandmother. I think about how my grandmother was forced to march to the factory in the concentration camps each day. I march for the thousands of girls who cannot march and cannot walk to school each day. I march for girls’ voices during a Trump presidency; for the girls who cannot vote but who must be heard.” – Jenna Zucker, Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), Traverse City Women’s March in Michigan


Photo by Caeli Waldron of students (left to right) Phoebe Kong, Brielle Underwood, and Alexa Bates from Marlborough High School at Women’s March Los Angeles

“I marched for the right of every individual to his/her/their own body.” – Phoebe Kong, Marlborough School (CA), Women’s March Los Angeles

“Although the march wasn’t specifically directed at Donald Trump, because it was the day after the inauguration, I, like many others, directed a lot of my feelings towards him. So I marched for the women that Trump offended during his candidacy, the black and Latinos he put down, the LGBTQ people that he and Pence made feel unsafe, and the disabled people that felt offended by his comments. These things among many others were reasons why I marched. I think that although this was a fight for women’s rights, it was so much more than that. It was a chance for all of the people in Los Angeles to stand in solidarity for our rights and the rights of others.” – Alexa Bates, Marlborough School (CA), Women’s March Los Angeles


Photo by Isha Kenkare (right) at the People’s Solidarity Rally in Rochester, NY

“Regardless of differences in race, religion, sexuality, and gender, thousands came to the rally in Rochester to support the fundamental rights for women and minorities, something that was amazing and inspiring to see. I hope that such experiences continue to occur in the future and also continue to remind lawmakers and politicians that our human rights cannot and should not be taken away.” – Isha Kenkare, Pittsford Sutherland High School (NJ), People’s Solidarity Rally in Rochester, NY


Photos by Cyan Jackson at the Sundance Women’s March in Park City, Utah. On the left, Cyan takes the oath to “to preserve and defend the Constitution” led by Aisha Tyler and Connie Britton.

“I marched for and as part of my generation, with hope for the future. I marched as part of this community walking beside me, with the peace of mind that all there believe that women and men are equal and both should be treated with equal respect. That’s why we marched through the snow, freezing and shivering. That motivation that pushed i and others forward was positive; i want to see these ideas we marched for become reality in the future. Hopefully sooner than later.” – Cyan Jackson, Pilgrim School (CA), Sundance Women’s March in Park City, UT


Photos by Larissa Lim at the Women’s March Los Angeles

“I marched because I don’t want the current political behavior we are experiencing from the new administration to become normalized. We know now that more than 3 million Americans (and many other around the globe) marched in solidarity and violence-free defiance. It was an incredible feeling to march alongside strangers who felt like friends – We need to continue to persevere and protect our human rights.“ – Larrisa Lim, Santa Monica High School (CA), Women’s March Los Angeles


Photo by Gabrielle Gorman of alum and Harvard student, Amanda Gorman, at Women’s March Los Angeles

“We fought a hell of a battle but the war isn’t over. Trump intends to continue development of the DAPL despite the efforts of Standing Rock Sioux. Surrounded by men, he just signed an Executive Order to defund International Planned Parenthood. Let’s keep fighting, because the March of social justice warriors never stops.“ – Amanda Gorman, Harvard, Women’s March Los Angeles


Photo by Caeli Waldron of girl protestor “Niko” at Women’s March Los Angeles


Photo by Urooba Abid at Women’s March NYC of posters left at one of Trump’s buildings



Caeli Waldron is the Associate Director of Chapter Development at Girls Learn International, a program of the Feminist Majority Foundation.