Rallying cry by millions of women echoed in Samoa

By Sina Filifilia Sevaaetasi 24 January 2017, 12:00AM

The plight of millions of women around the world protesting against the inauguration of Donald John Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America is not lost in Samoa.

As images of protest marches at different parts of the globe continue to make headlines around the world, women in Samoa are closely following the events – and offering their support where they can.

For the majority of them, social media platforms, mainly Facebook and Twitter, have been their avenue to express their support for the courage of their sisters to voice their concerns.

For one Samoan woman, Suisala Mele Maualaivao, she said there are leigitimate reasons to be concerned about Trump’s behaviour as he takes the most powerful political office in the world.

The Country Programme Coordinator for United Nations Women supports the protest marches, expressing concerns about Trump’s documented inappropriate behavior towards women. 

“This women’s march wasn’t just about how Trump treats women,” she told the Samoa Observer yesterday. 

“It was really about how he treats members who he doesn’t share the same values with. 

 “My concern is where he was talking about kissing women and grabbing without their permission is illegal in majority of the countries in the world.  Yet, still he was elected.  

“I think that was for a lot of people at the core of what urged them on in terms of these protests. 

 “He is somebody who has admitted and caught on tape purposefully grabbing women, assaulting women. It would be considered assault overseas in the States, I don’t know about the law here in Samoa but any unwanted touching is inappropriate. 

“Yet he was still able to run for office.”

And not just run for Office, he won.

 “For a presidential candidate one would presume that the information that was revealed about him prior to the election would have ruined his campaign and prevented him from continuing on,” she said. 

“It didn’t seem to work!  It didn’t seem to surprise people that he behaved that way. I think the people who supported Trump didn’t care and that’s just who he was.”

“It’s more of a matter of, when this man spoke this way and was publically caught speaking that way, the fact that there weren’t people who decried him.  I think a lot of us here would think it to be inappropriate for a man to speak that way especially someone in leadership.”

For Ms. Maualaivao, witnessing women of Pacific Island heritage engage in political activism thorough out the globe was absolutely astounding.  

The marches have been dominating world headlines for the past 24 hours. Less than 24 hours after President Trump took office, over five million men and women worldwide and over 1 million in D.C. Washington marched on Washington to let their voices heard.

What started out as a Facebook post by a saddened grandmother from Hawaii soon snowballed into a global demonstration uniting people of all walks of life standing united advocating on behalf of the marginalized and those who have been target of Trumps fury.  

Even a million miles across the vast Pacific Ocean, their voices were heard here in Samoa.  

In Washington DC, women protesters, many wearing pink knit hats, marched through downtown Washington around the White House and other landmarks, and also protested in other U.S. cities.

Thousands of women also took to the streets of Sydney, London, Tokyo, New Delhi and other European and Asian cities in solidarity.

Trump has angered many people with comments seen as demeaning to women, Mexicans and Muslims, and worried some abroad with his vow on Friday to put "America first."

"I came in support of women's rights and to protect our future and our health, and to prevent backsliding from the few gains we've made in the last few decades," Karla Jackson, a 56-year-old pensioner from Raleigh, North Carolina, said as the Washington march got underway.

Meredith Dutterer, 37, of Clover, South Carolina, came to Washington with her 9-year-old daughter Ellie.

"We came to celebrate women's equality, because she's nine and I'd like for her to have more opportunities than I had," Dutterer said. 

In London organisers said an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people took part in the march, including Mayor Sadiq Khan.

"I'm here to show support for all the women, especially in Washington," said Penny Dedman, 66. "They need to see other people coming together. People woke up this morning realising (Trump's presidency) was real. We have to do something about it," she said.

"In 2017 it's a disgrace there's inequality, so I'm here to support equality and freedom, and protest against sexism and the suppression of women's rights," said writer Kip Hall, 42, another London protester and one of the many men who joined the march.

In Barcelona, Spain, around 2,500 people joined the protest, organisers said.

"My message is that it is time to wake up and inform ourselves. This is no time to sit by. We need to make it happen," said Stephanie Loveless, 33, a doctoral researcher and organiser of the Barcelona march.

Protesters also took to the streets of the Indian capital New Delhi.

"I am here because I want to go out without feeling scared of being molested. You face it day and night. It has become normalised," said activst Logna Bezbaruah, 25.

"I am here today because I support the cause of equality. Women aren't asking for more rights, just equal rights," said activist Bhanu Pratap Pangtey, 27.

In the southern city of Bengaluru, where police are investigating reports of the mass molestation of women on New Year's Eve, protesters said people should fight against sexual harassment being seen as normal.

"I and a lot of my friends have to deal with a lot of crap, mostly from men," said Gayatri Ashta, 25, a technology consultant. "Somewhere my anger had over the years become acceptance and then plain complacency. This march has reminded me that we don't have to accept this," she said.

- Additional reporting from Reuters

By Sina Filifilia Sevaaetasi 24 January 2017, 12:00AM

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