Why 11 Young Women Marched On Washington

One small step for woman, one giant leap for history

I am woman, hear me roar. This may have been one of the most popular sign slogans for attendees at the Women's March on Washington this Saturday, but it was also quite literal. An estimated 500,000 pink-clad protesters descended on the nation's capital to have their voices heard in the rally for gender equality, and their chants were echoed in sister marches that stretched from Chicago and Los Angeles to France, London, Germany and beyond. 

Decked out in pink knit caps, clutching glitter-covered picket signs, and forming human chains to connect friends to sisters, mothers and grandmothers, the tight-knit crowd formed a swarm of pink that upstaged attendance at President (gulp) Donald Trump's own inauguration a mere 24 hours earlier. For a movement that began as a Facebook post in the aftermath of Election Day, the march has since spread, might we say, "bigly." But as those who attended would be quick to point out, the march wasn't just about Trump. 

"Most of the congressmen who are helping Trump facilitate all the things that he wants to do have always been there," explained Chloe Sariego, a 21-year-old student at Sarah Lawrence College who rode a bus from New York to D.C. for the march. "So regardless of Trump and his bullshit, I feel that I’m marching for the things that I’ve always been trying to fight for and have always believed in. We are starting off what’s going to be a really long and difficult fight in the right direction."

For many, the march was about changing the very face of feminism—a face that all too often represents the plight of straight, white women only. Cecily Lo, a 21-year-old Tufts University student who traveled from Boston to attend the march, said she saw the march as a chance to diversify what she calls "mainstream" feminism. 

"Intersectionality is really important to me in terms of not just representing white, privileged, cis, straight women," Lo continued. "I am making sure that the feminism that we’re promoting covers everybody."

Judging by the diversity of attendees, each with their own expertly crafted sign and symbolic outfit, nearly every person who took to D.C. for the march on Saturday had a different fuel to their fire. Click through the slideshow below to get personal with 11 women who marched on Washington, and read about why they believe the future is female.

Photos by Tatiana Cirisano.

Cecily Lo is a 21-year-old computer science student at Tufts University in Boston.

Why are you marching?

Obviously for women’s rights, but more importantly for women who are sometimes not represented by the mainstream feminist movement. Especially trans women, queer women, and other minority women. Intersectionality is really important to me in terms of not just representing white, privileged, cis, straight women, who already have a voice in the mainstream media in terms of what feminism is. Especially with this presidency, I think those people—the underrepresented—stand to be the most endangered by Trump. That’s why I’m here today, because I can, and I feel like I need to be.

What message do you think the march sends?

That we’re still here fighting, and that there’s a majority of people who didn’t vote for Trump and are trying to not turn our clocks back 300 years. At the same time, for me, personally, I am making sure that the feminism that we’re promoting covers everybody.

Mehveen Riaz is a 27-year-old attorney living in D.C.

Why are you marching?

I’m marching because of my faith, I’m marching because of the color of my skin, I’m marching because of the way I pray, the way that my parents raised me, and to honor my parents’ legacy. My parents and grandparents immigrated here, like many people, and they came here to give me a better life. I think we’re all marching for different reasons. But we all have the same purpose—we’re all trying to make progress, we’re all trying to make sure that [Barack] Obama’s legacy is honored in a way that does justice to it.

What message do you think the march sends?

Well, there’s no progress without dissent. So I hope it triggers a response that continues, and I hope it sends a message to President Trump that there are people who actually disagree with him. I think he’s not confronted with that on a daily basis. There’s no negativity involved. [Trump] is our president, and as an American, I love my country enough to hope that he does well. I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face. I want him to succeed, but I want him to know that we’re going to hold him accountable. So I think this is to stimulate and catalyze movement that lasts for a long time to come.

Alexa Ramirez is a 17-year-old student from Chicago.

Why are you marching?

I think we can’t do anything without intersectionality. As a Latina Chicagoan, I think it’s important for us to be part of history, and be part of the textbook. Because this is going to be in the textbook one day, and to see someone like me, and my friend who’s Asian-American, we’re here, out here to represent diversity and intersectionality, to take the next step in feminism.

How would you describe the environment here?

It’s indescribable, really. When we came out of the bus, we just saw everybody walking around with their pussy hats, and everyone was cheering, I was eating an apple because that was my breakfast, we came in a bus that was an eleven-hour drive... [laughs]. It just feels like we’re all together, and we’re all here for each other.

Maura Weingarten is a 24-year-old who works in education in New York.

Why are you marching?

I’m marching because I think a lot of us lately have felt very powerless, and today we’re coming together and we are saying that we do not respect how our new president talks about women or how he feels about women, and that our rights are human rights. We’re not going to just deal with whatever happens. We’re going to be here, we’re going to march, and we’re going to stand up for what we want and deserve.

What impact do you hope the march will have?

I hope that people realize that young people and women and minorities and people of a million different communities want progress. Our country is not going backward just because of this past election. We are here to unify, and we’re here saying that we’re looking for progress, and we will find that progress one way or another.

Kyle Anthony is a 29-year-old lower school teacher living in Brooklyn.

Why are you marching?

I was really inspired to march for my students, in a lot of ways. They’re in first and second grade. [Donald Trump] is going to be who they see growing up. They’re going to understand and learn about the government through the lens of the presidency. I started introducing strong women into our classroom, and [the students] really enjoyed it, and I became very passionate about it. I would see all my friends working together and it became so crucial. If I didn’t come, I would've felt disappointed, as if I let my family and friends down.

How would you describe the environment here at the march?

On my way here, we stopped at a gas station and a woman gave me a huge hug. She’s like, “I can’t march today, I’m working, I have to work, it’s not an option for me to go, but I’m so proud of everyone who is going.” The feeling of solidarity, all the women, all the men, every group, every color being here, it feels safe. In a world that right now doesn’t always feel safe, it feels safe. And the kindness that everyone has been showing, even as we’re pushing through these horrible, dense crowds, everyone’s being so nice. I think that’s just the tone of this movement—kindness in the face of anger and fear.

Jen Winston is a 28-year-old creative director living in Brooklyn who also runs GirlPowerSupply.

Why are you marching?

I am marching for women’s rights and for human rights and for reproductive rights for women. We’ve been talking a lot about how it’s not necessarily just for us, but marching for other people who aren’t necessarily in the positions of privilege that we are.

How would you describe being at the march?

Very powerful. It’s like a political Coachella, but I mean that in a very serious way [laughs]. I thought about what I was going to wear for weeks.

What message do you hope the march sends?

The thing that makes me most excited is seeing all the young girls here, especially the ones who are wearing the hats and holding signs. They’re the next generation who is going to vote, and they are the generation that’s actually going to change the world.

Maggie Braine is a 27-year-old interior design consultant living in New York.

Why are you marching?

I am marching for equal rights. I brought pictures of my grandma, and my godmother, because they couldn’t be here. So I’m marching because it’s about time. I can’t believe that [this election] actually happened. And I can’t believe we’re still marching about this.

What message do you think the march sends?

I think the march sends the message that we are awake. I think all of us, at least in our generation, took what we thought were equal rights for granted. I think that the rights our moms, our aunts, our grandmothers, fought for, we don’t actually have them. And now we’re realizing that it’s our time to fight as well. We’ve I think just been coasting, thinking we had [these rights]. We don’t. So now it’s time to step up.

Where do you think protesters should go from here, in terms of further activism?

I think they need to call their representatives a lot more. Marching and spreading stories and sharing their experiences is great, but I think you actually have to call your representatives and make your voice heard. The numbers are readily available. Sign petitions, as many White House petitions as you can. Put your voice out there into legislation and get involved. Don’t just make noise—make the right kind of noise.

Bianca Bratton is a 22-year-old who works at a film studio in Washington D.C.

Why are you marching?

Because I care about women. Because I care about my mom, and my grandmother, and all the women in America. I feel like we’ve been disrespected, and we need respect.

What message do you think the march sends?

I like that we’re all together, and I hope that people see that—that there are this many people together and really fighting for something.

What more do you think activists can do moving forward?

We need to keep fighting individually, and finding different ways for us to connect, not just on this grand level, but in an individual way.

Emma Howard is a 19-year-old student living in Boston.

Why are you marching?

Growing up, my mom was very much a feminist. She and I worked on Hillary [Clinton’s] campaign in 2008. I was raised to be a strong woman. Obviously the election didn’t go the way that we wanted, but it really showed us that this is our time to start working. Got to keep it alive.

How would you describe the environment here?

It’s a gathering of everyone who believes that everyone matters. When you look around, it almost doesn’t feel real. It’s peaceful.

Tiara L’Hommedieu is a 21-year-old painting student living in Baltimore.

Why are you marching?

Because I fucking hate Trump [laughs]. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons, but that just encompasses everything. It’s a pretty good reason.

What message do you hope the march sends?

For one, I just hope it sends out the message of solidarity and coming together. There’s so many people out here, compared to the Inauguration.

How would you describe being here?

It’s really loving, I think. I’m walking around, and I’m seeing so many people either commenting on other people’s signs or out of nowhere saying, “where’d you get that?” It’s really nice. I think it’s really loving, just that we’re together.

Kaylinn Bezenar is a 25-year-old mortuary student living in Virginia.

Why are you marching?

One, it’s my friend’s birthday, and this is kind of what she wanted to do. But I also came up because I’m a woman [laughs]. This is important, making your voice heard.

How would you describe the environment here?

It’s really supportive. There’s a lot of camaraderie going on. There’s people handing out temporary tattoos, and stuff. There is a little bit of negativity from other groups, on our way here. People are here for a variety of reasons, but one core reason of unity, really.

What impact do you hope the march will have?

I just feel like especially with the White House right now and with Trump as the president, I feel like he’s blocked off to what people think. I hope that this will make him realize that there are people like this. I just want it to get into his head. But also just as a statement to Congress in general, that what you’re doing right now, we obviously care about. Yeah, you’re voted into power, but you need to take into account that you still represent all of us.