This weekend, tens of thousands of women and allies gathered across the nation and world to march together in solidarity. Marking the 4th annual Women’s March, this year’s stakes are the highest they’ve been in decades. With a focus on standing up against restrictive anti-abortion laws popping up in states across the south, 2021’s Women’s March was delayed by most of the year by the pandemic, but was well-attended in cities across the US. 

Women’s March 2021

Women's March

The Women’s March was created in 2017. On the first full day in office of former President Donald Trump, over 4.1 million women and allies gathered worldwide to protest what they feared would be a reversal of rights under the new administration. The first march was partly spurred by a video released during the election that showed Trump in 2005 making sexist remarks and joking about sexual assault. The infamous, “Grab ’em by the p—y” remarks inspired some interesting fashion choices in the form of pink cat-ear hats, and was central to the theme of the march. 

Since then, groups have gathered annually on January 21st to march in defense of women’s rights, as well as to raise awareness about social causes like climate change, racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabled peoples rights and other important topics. This year, due to the pandemic and the chaos following the January 6th attempted insurrection, the march was pushed back to October. 

Seen in the crowd were homages to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, costumes depicting the handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale, more of the pink cat hats, and other powerful images that evoke fears of losing rights to ultra-conservative policies. And unfortunately, those fears are coming to be realized as sweeping abortion restrictions are being enacted in many religiously extremist Southern states. 

The Highest Stakes in Decades

This year, the theme was focused on combatting those abortion restrictions as places like Texas make it nearly impossible to get an abortion in time. In TX, 6 weeks is the cut off – before most women even know they’re pregnant. And the state has encouraged deputizing citizens to turn each other and doctors in if they believe they’ve violated the new law. It’s a disturbing precedence that Women’s March attendees want to bring attention to and help put pressure on the SCOTUS to overturn it. NBC New York reported in the days before the march, “Organizers say the Washington march will be among hundreds of abortion-themed protests around the country Saturday. The demonstrations just before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by President Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court.

‘Shame, shame, shame!’ marchers chanted while walking past the Trump International Hotel on their way to the Supreme Court. Some booed and waived their fists at the Trump landmark.

The day before the march, the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September. It’s one of a series of cases that will give the nation’s divided high court occasion to uphold or overrule Roe v. Wade.”

Cities Around the World Participated 

Women's March

After the first march saw over 4 million attendees, participation hasn’t again reached that peak. This year, deterred by the risks of gathering during a pandemic, most marchers offered support from home. But that’s not to say everyone stayed home. Pictured at one of the marches were Hollywood superstars Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence. Schumer revealed that she’s had a hysterectomy, and Lawrence is pregnant, but the issue is still near and dear to their hearts. In an image shared by Schumer on Instagram, the pair pose with signs and the caption reads, “I don’t have a uterus and she is pregnant but we out here @womensmarch @plannedparenthood #rallyforabortionjustice.”

Over 600 sister rallies joined the original Washington march, and over 100K people attended despite the pandemic. Cities like Houston, Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles were among those joining in. It was a bittersweet moment, gathering again after all the changes of the past 20 months, but worrying about basic women’s rights. With the possibility of Roe V Wade on the chopping block, the message this year is more urgent than ever.