#lights4rights in Brussels

On January 20th, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration at the Capitol (Washington DC), several marches were organised across the World to stand up for women’s rights.

Several hundred persons faced the cold and gathered yesterday at Place de la Monnaie, in front of the Theatre, at 5.00 pm. They were activists, NGOs, families, young and old people, Belgians, expats, living in Brussels or not. What was their point? Promoting women’s rights and protesting against climate change denial.

Feminist movements indeed organised spontaneous marches yesterday, in margin of the Donald Trump’s inauguration, from Sydney to Nairobi, Washington, London and Tokyo. “This idea came after the shock of the American elections”, Emma Woodford said. She is the main organiser of this march. “We thought he could never be elected, because all of the things he said about women. But we were wrong and we wanted to say ‘enough is enough’. That is why we decided to demonstrate today”, she added. And as the 45th President of the United States took the oath of office yesterday, it was a very symbolic day to plan this protest.



Pierrette, who took part of the organisation on behalf of the European Women’s lobby told us “We are here to send a message. Women are attacked too much and they have something to say. We hope it will foster the feminist movements, as well as the social justice movements who fight for human rights. We need to get back a democracy who serves the citizens’ interests”.

Eco-friendly organisations joined this protest in Place de la Monnaie, which resulted in an eclectic demonstration, with Friend of the Earth Europe, Amnesty International, the European Women’s lobby as well as political parties and unions. It however remained a Belgian demonstration. In case you have never attended marches here, they are multilinguistic. French-speakers and Dutch-speakers then took the floor to condemn machismo, populism and climate change skepticism, under main mottos such as “So-so-so-solidarity with women from all over the World”.

But most of the participants were “random citizens” who support one of these fights. “We have heard about it on Facebook and we think it is a good response to what is happening in America. It is a good thing that people are out of their home and decided to come here, not watching the inaugurationSophie and Giovanni said. Sophie is from England and Giovanni is half-French/half-American. He said he is then especially concerned about US politics. Anthony came from Antwerp just to attend the event. “I am here because my dad told me about the march in Brussels. There was nothing in Antwerp. I am here as it very important for me to support the rights for everybody. I am black, and it is sometimes not so easy. But I am actually quite surprised. I did not expect so many people, so it is good”, he said. The participants were called to come with candles and lighters, to light the square. Although everyone did not have one, the demonstration was still a success for the organisers.

But what will happen afterwards? Hundreds were at Place de la Monnaie, fine. But the feminist movements and the European women’s lobby would like to keep on leading some actions in the coming months.  “We have the French elections. We have the Dutch elections, where the far right is strong. We have to take care and push back against those who want to roll back human rights and women’s rights”, Emma Woodford said. If the timeline is not planned yet, other actions will probably take place soon, according to Pierrette.