Co-organiser Kimberly explains how Women’s March on London attracted over 100,000 to their first ever event - and their plans to continue to make a positive impact in the political landscape.
Tell us about yourself & what cause you’re working on.
My name is Kimberly. I live in London and am a freelance food photographer and yoga teacher.
I am part of the Women’s March on London collective who organised the Women’s March on London (WMOL) on 21 January 2017.
What motivated you to get started with your cause?
During 2016 we saw a lot of political upheaval and unrest - Brexit, Aleppo, Jo Cox’s stabbing and the presidential campaign in the United States, which of course resulted in Trump’s election.
The latter - for me - was the straw that broke the camel’s back, THE turning point where I felt that I could continue to be a passive bystander as the political landscape around me turned in a direction that didn’t sit particularly well OR take an active role in shaping the landscape and try to make a positive difference.
When Trump got elected I was incredibly upset. Then I heard about a Women’s March being organised in Washington DC. It gave me such hope and made me think: What if we get something off the ground here in the UK, march in solidarity with those marching in the USA whilst also raising awareness and inspiring people to take an interest in politics again.
I hit the internet and within hours found a handful of other UK-based women - none of us with any political affiliation or experience - and started the grassroots movement which was to become The Women’s March on London. We got more than 100,000 people to march in the streets of London, which exceeded our wildest dreams!
What did it take to get your cause off the ground?
As noted already, we found each other via the internet - Facebook to be exact. Setting up the page really was quick and easy, but everything thereafter was a labour of love. I mean we were strangers to one another with just one common goal, to march on the 21st of January.
It took a lot of discussion and time to work out roles and to overcome our differences. What became very clear from the outset however was how committed we all were in making the march happen and giving human rights, women’s rights, solidarity and equality the platform they deserved.
That really allowed us to pull through the setbacks we experienced along the way. That and 10 weeks of sleepless nights as we needed to learn about getting permits, finding speakers for our rally, liaising with the press and promoting the event via social media in such a way that it would have a wide enough reach to name but a few of the things we had to do to make the event a success.
From our humble beginnings it snowballed into a massive movement that continues to have momentum and can still be felt today!
How have you attracted supporters and grown your cause?
We were very lucky as we found a number of organisations such as Unite the Union, Amnesty International and Greenpeace who understood our core message straight away and supported us from very early on. I think what helped in gaining their interest was the fact that the issues we were marching for felt so relevant, so poignant to that moment in time; perhaps if we’d tried to march a year earlier it wouldn’t have been as well received though of course we’ll never know.
We also worked hard at connecting with the relevant people on social media and attracting their attention as best we could. This lead to us being featured in The Guardian, Stylist magazine and other national newspapers.
What’s the story behind the sustainability of your cause?
We are a non-for-profit organisation. This means that none of us take home any money for the time that we put into WMOL. We all work on a voluntary basis on WMOL alongside our ‘real’ jobs. This means that all the money we raise goes directly towards covering the costs of the march as well as future events.
Our income was generated via:
- T-shirt sales
- Gofundme donations
- Funding events hosted by supporters. For example, some people arranged coffee mornings to fund raise for us and one woman arranged a comedy night with all proceeds going to WMOL
We also had a lot of support from the organisations who helped us with essentials we needed for the march. For example, they lent us speakerphones and a stage and microphones, a first aid box, etc, meaning we didn’t have to cover those expenses ourselves.
What are your goals for the future?
We set out to get people more interested and involved in politics and this is an ongoing project. We are currently working on our #10actions100days campaign where we are asking everyone to complete 10 actions over the course of 100 that will make a positive impact on their community and/or the general political landscape.
You can find more information about our 10 actions on the Women’s March on London website
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Everything takes time and so does making a real difference. The march was an awesome start but our work isn’t done.
I’d not do anything different! We learned so much despite the many mistakes we made, but we’re the wiser for it.
Where can we go to learn more?
Please check out our website at womensmarchlondon.com
You can find our #10actions100days campaign there, as well as information about upcoming events.
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