Saturday 01 April 2023

Amsterdam Women’s March calls for safer streets, gender equality

Photo: Chloe Lovatt

Nearly 1,000 people took part in Saturday’s Women’s March in Amsterdam ahead of the International Women’s Day celebrations on March 8.

The mood was upbeat in the afternoon sunshine as the crowd marched from Dam Square to Museumplein, echoing the message that there is still a long way to go when it comes to gender equality.

The theme of this year’s March was ‘Time is Up’ with the organisers stressing that ‘the self-determination and safety of women are still not taken seriously in the Netherlands’.

‘I think it’s important to make sure women are safe outside. I don’t want to be afraid to walk on my own at night,’ said Gabi (26) from Amsterdam. ‘I think it’s insane that in 2022 we still don’t have equal rights between men and women. We need to make men accountable for what they do.’

Reminder of current events

In addition to banners brandished by activist groups, political party banners were prominent. Members of GroenLinks and D66 joined demonstrators and reminded them that the local elections are nearing. MPs and candidates standing in the elections later this month also took the opportunity to show their support for the protest.

It wasn’t just local politics that were on people’s minds and some used the demonstration as a stark reminder of current world events. Rozenia Salihu took the stage to dedicate a spoken word performance to those who have had to flee global conflicts. People held signs which read ‘Stand for Ukrainian women’, while the colours of the Ukrainian flag were dotted amongst the protesters.

Left-leaning crowd

Other demonstrators reminded the crowd of other longer standing conflicts. Ayella (45) originally from Palestine, was one of many waving the Palestinian flag. ‘I hope everyone is taking note of what is happening in the news and the double standard,’ she told ‘How sanctions for certain countries were not possible, are now all of a sudden, possible.’

As well as being concerned with current events, many of the attendees had signs with a broader, left-wing political message. ‘I am a feminist and an anti-colonialst feminist, and an anti-capitalist feminist,’ Ayella said. ‘I always bring a sign that reminds people of the connection between feminism and anti-colonialsm – a lot of people don’t think about it.’

Hopeful atmosphere 

Despite the more serious undertones marking the event, the majority of the crowd was in good spirits. The back of march was flanked by drummers, encouraging people to dance or run towards the park.

This upbeat atmosphere contrasted with the sobering message from attendees. With reports of domestic violence skyrocketing in the Amsterdam region since November 2021, it is a sobering reminder that gender based violence remains a pressing issue.

‘Every week a woman is killed because she is a woman,’ said Roalind (57) from Amsterdam. ‘I don’t need equal rights, I just need to be able to walk around this world on my own terms.’

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