“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no.” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, homophobia has got to go.” It’s Sunday afternoon, 8 March, International Women’s Day. Quite a large group has assembled on the Vrijthof. A flag saying “Women of the World Unite!” has been attached to the iron railing of the music stand. When just after two o’clock the first speech starts, a few hundred demonstrators are listening attentively. The speeches are in English, aimed in particular at the group of young students who don’t speak Dutch. At the same time, several parents with young children and some older ladies and gentlemen have also braved the bad weather.
The various stories indicate that this International Women’s Day March is not just about women’s rights. The speeches dwell on topics such as Polish anti-abortion legislation, the lack of acceptance of transgenders, justice for the victims of sexual harassment and violence, both in the home and outside. After each speech, some slogans are shouted, which the demonstrators repeat with equal enthusiasm. “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”
“We are marching for a society in which everyone is included, regardless of such matters as religion or sexual inclination,” says Murren Meers, member of the Unicef Student Team. Student Vera Tschirsch says that, in addition to the female part of the population, there is a multitude of individuals who are subject to discrimination or suppression for a variety of reasons. “Intersectionality,” she calls it, “it is more than just feminism.”
That this is not just about women’s rights, becomes clear when a group of demonstrators starts to march. Many of them carry protest signs, banners and so-called ‘Pride Flags'. While a young man shows a sign saying “women rule”, a couple points to the femicide in Mexico. Not much further, a small group of young bystanders draws attention to the suppression by patriarchy and capitalist exploitation. Can a march be any more inclusive?