Tuesday, March 12, 2019
On Saturday, March 9, 2019, one day after International Women’s Day, thousands gathered at Dam Square to attend the official Women’s March of 2019. The march began at 12:30 pm and ended roughly around 3 pm at Museumplein, where several speakers had been invited to share their stories. The organizers, Women’s March NL, emphasized on the Facebook event that “2019 is not just about women.”
That is to say that standing in for equal rights is inherently connected with raising a voice against racism, heterosexism and islamophobia. “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives”, reads a quote by Audre Lorde, highlighted on the Women’s March event page. Therefore, protesters came to march for all different reasons.
Women’s Rights and Health
Saskia Husken, 40, spokesperson of the international department of Rutgers, an organization that focuses on the education of sexual and reproductive rights, wore a skirt completely made from female condoms, which, according to her, need to receive more attention. Today, she is here to advocate the SheDecides movement. “SheDecides is a global movement to raise awareness about women’s rights to choose about their own bodies: whom to have a relationship with, whom to love, whether or not to have children”, she stated. Husken believes that standing up for women’s rights is crucial for social development and will make the world a better and more equal place.
Women’s Rights and Art
Rachel Rumai, 28, representative of the Vrouwenkamer, attended the protest to speak about gender inequality in the art world. “We want more women in museums, more women in literature, more women on stages”, she exclaimed. According to Rachel, a study done by Mama Cash demonstrates that only 13% of all art work exhibited in Dutch museums was made by women. De Vrouwenkamer offers a safe space for women to share their stories and launches regular exhibitions which showcase female artists only.
Women’s Rights and Sex Work
Velvet December, 23, holds up a red umbrella to show that she came with PROUD, the Dutch sex-worker union. “Sex work is work, and we deserve labour rights like anyone else,” she explained. “The sex worker community is very diverse, and while there are a lot of women, there are also people of colour, men and trans people.”
As one of the official speakers for this Women’s March, Velvet was one of many to demonstrate the many sides of the women’s rights movement at the end of the march. Despite steady rain and wind, the protest reached Museumplein shortly before 3pm. There, Velvet told the protest: “I am a sex worker. I am gay. I am a woman. This is intersectionality. It is as simple as that. My life intersects with women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and workers rights. My life intersects with yours.”
Women’s Rights and Politics
Devika Partiman of Stem Op Een Vrouw (Vote for a Woman), highlighted the importance of empowering women politically. She reminded the protest that, 100 years after women in the Netherlands got the right to vote and stand for election, only less than one third of politicians are female. “The modern idea that democracy results in gender equality is wrong,” she iterated to urge the crowd to vote without bias for female candidates. “There are many more glass ceilings and stone walls to be torn down.”
Women’s Rights and Ableism
Annika Mell, the second speaker at the protest, was a disability activist. “I didn’t march with you today not because I don’t care, not because intersectional feminism is not as important today as any day,” she continued, “I didn’t march with you today because this is my first time out of my house in two weeks”. Mell spoke about the difficulties in getting dressed and sitting upright in front of everyone. Acknowledging the Women’s March the Netherlands’ efforts to mitigate the issue, she explained that “by its very nature, a march like this is not accessible to everyone. We are united as feminists against ableism. And we are a badass collective. Not because of our disabilities. Not in spite of our disabilities. But just with our disabilities.”
Women’s Rights and Feminism
The first speaker on the stage at Museumplein was Naomie Pieter, co-founder of Black & Queer Resistance Netherlands. She told the crowd, “I need some of you to realise that if your feminism isn’t about breaking down all forms of oppression, then your feminism is shit.” She led the protest with a chant of “we are strong, we are beautiful.” Pieter, together with other women protesters that had come on stage with her, stripped to reveal her breasts onstage to applause from the crowd. Everyone then joined her in a chant of “my body, my rules.” The Women’s March of 2019 was a demonstration of the increased awareness of human rights issues, and their intersectionality.