LONDON — Inspired by the Women’s March on Washington, people in cities worldwide hit the streets Saturday to show solidarity with Americans and to promote human rights and gender equality in their own countries.
While the march in Washington was by far the biggest and drew unexpectedly large numbers, it was just one of 673 staged in cities worldwide, from Moscow to Manchester, England. Organizers said that demonstrators wanted to send a bold message to President Trump on his first full day in office that women’s rights are worth defending.
Trump’s campaign was colored by sexist remarks, allegations of sexual assault and lewd comments about women that Trump dismissed as “locker room talk.” Many women voted for Trump, including the majority of white women.
Some organizers have tried to play down the marches as “anti-Trump” and instead emphasize messages of unity.
“It’s an opportunity to come together, to grieve and then to turn that around to celebrate unity,” said Kimberly Espinal, one of the organizers of the London rally that began at noon Greenwich Mean time.
On a cold and sunny winter’s day, the crowd in London was large and lively — organizers estimated that as many as 100,000 participants were there. Demonstrators held colorful placards reading, “A woman’s place is in the revolution,” and, in an apparent reference to Trump and “Harry Potter” books, “Even Voldemort was better.”
Protesters gathered first outside the U.S. Embassy, and then wove through central London en route to Trafalgar Square. Among those demonstrating was London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“As a feminist in City Hall I fully support the fight for gender equality,” Khan said in a statement. “It’s wrong that in 2017 someone’s life chances and fundamental rights are still dependent on their gender.”
Marina Knight, a 43-year-old executive assistant, was marching Saturday with her 9-year-old daughter, Phoebe, and two other mothers and their daughters.
“This is her first march — it’s the first time we felt it was vital to march,” Knight said, referring to her daughter. “I feel the rights we take for granted could go backward, and we owe it to our daughters and the next generation to fix this somehow.”
Sister marches were taking place in more than 70 countries spread across the continents — including the Antarctic, where 30 people were planning to march past gentoo penguins.
In Canada, events were planned in about 34 cities or towns, including Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, where locals marched in minus-6-degree temperatures.
“It was really cold,” resident Anthony Doyle said. But he bundled up and went anyway, because “as a father, I want my son to have positive male role models in the world, and I worry about the impact of a man like Trump, who’s said the things he has about women, on young men growing up.”
In Israel, several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. The event was sponsored by the Israel chapter of Pantsuit Nation, a group supportive of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic challenger.
The rally was led by American Israelis, and the speakers who denounced the xenophobia and sexism attributed to Trump spoke in English.
“Love, not hate, makes America great!” they chanted as attendees waved signs that read, “Nasty Women United” and “Black Lives Matter.”
In Paris, thousands of women and men marched through the city’s grand boulevards in a rejection of the new U.S. president that was organized by a network of French and U.S. feminist groups.
“We are mobilizing as the new president of the United States prepares to apply the violently sexist, lesbophobic, homophobic, xenophobic and racist ideology that he defended during his campaign,” read the event’s Facebook page, which listed more than 4,000 attendees.
But for Marie Allibert, one of the organizers, the march’s mission was not entirely to condemn Trump’s words and actions.
“It’s more about women’s rights, human rights,” she said. “During the campaign there were lots of misogynist, racist and hateful messages, and that’s what we’re standing up against.”
Besides, she added, France will hold its own presidential elections in April and May, a contest that many have interpreted as a potential next chapter in populist upheaval. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party, is climbing in the polls, and close behind her is the more centrist conservative François Fillon, whose opposition to abortion has outraged many female voters.
“There’s a parallel between the situation in the U.S. and the situation in France,” Allibert said. “We have two major candidates that we feminist organizations think are a direct threat to women’s rights.”
It is perhaps remarkable that so many foreigners are marching in demonstrations related to the inauguration of a U.S. president.
But organizers said that interest was almost immediate.
The day after the U.S. election, a plan was hatched to march on Washington. Within hours, the organizers started fielding requests from people in other countries who couldn’t make it to Washington but wanted to take part.
“In the first 24 hours, people from London, Norway, Australia, Canada, Switzerland got in touch saying, ‘Hey, we’d also love to have a march in our country; can you create our own Facebook page for that?’ ” said Breanne Butler, a chef from New York and one of the event’s global organizers.
She noted that each march has its own dynamic, and that demonstrators will be pushing different messages.
“In many South American countries, gender violence is at the top of the list,” she said. “In Tokyo, one of the issues they are campaigning for is the right to education.”
New Zealand and Australia were among the first countries where women took to the streets.
Although it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, some people were spotted in Wellington wearing knitted pink “pussyhats” — a cat-themed reference to lewd remarks Trump made about women in a 2005 video.
In Sydney, demonstrators were met with a surprise when they looked up to see “Trump” emblazoned in the sky. Trump supporters reportedly paid to have the president’s name written in the air, prompting jeers from the crowd.
“People ask: ‘Why here? Why Sydney? This isn’t your issue,’ ” Kate Taylor, co-founder of the march on Sydney, said in a brief interview during the rally. “But it is. Misogyny and bigotry are global issues.”
Griff Witte in London, James McAuley in Paris and William Booth in Jerusalem contributed to this report.