International Women's Day March in Berlin: The mixed problems of today's woman
On March 8th, known to be International Women's Day, the women from Berlin gathered to the streets to protest a wide variety of problems that women face today, highlighting issues with diversity, health, violence and minority communities within the feminist one.
I was greeted as Schlesisches Tor with a group of women and men dressed as clowns promoting the event with flowers and cakes, which was a warm introduction to the march and it's message of inclusiveness. Directly opposite the U-Bahn station, I found myself standing in a mass of women (and the occasional man), who were waving their flags, chanting phrases or listening to some speeches that were held out of a lorry with a banner that read "Keine Frau ist Allein" or "No woman is alone".
The speeches were made by women from all over the world, highlighting a variety of issues out of the usual protest loudspeaker from the back of the lorry into the large crowd of flags and signs. The issues addressed were by some of the world's "front-line-of-defense" women, including Malahai Joya, an activist from Afghanistan, who talked about the realities of life in the country where the forces of the USA, the Taliban, Communism and ISIS, have slowly wilted away at women's rights there over time. After these speeches, the lorry lead forth the crowd of women into Oppelner Straße, leading further west going through the Görlitzer and Kottbusser Tor areas towards Oranienplatz.
Within the long line-up of women, there were groups of individual activist groups with various dilemmas from within the feminist movement. There was, for example, a Black Lives Matter banner and group of women standing with the particular problems surrounding both women and the Black Lives Matter movement. One area of speculation within the feminist movement is inclusiveness and diversity; how as women we must support all women, especially those who are suffering under racial prejudice, homophobia or additional problems with identity. Many came with banners supporting this, including "Kein Feminismus ohne Anti-Racissmus" - "No Feminism without Anti-racism", "Sectionality Matters" and "Black Girls Matter".
I stood for some time with another group "Ni Una Menos"- "Not One More" - a movement founded in Argentina that has spread with momentum across Latin America and Spain. The group was calling for the end of domestic violence throughout the continent, where the high numbers of femicides committed by boyfriends and husbands seems to be increasing. The group in Berlin sung their own chants on the walk in Spanish, including many dance moves and alternatives to popular songs with lyrics changed to depict the true problems of violence against women. We were asked to hold our hands out in solidarity with the women who can no longer speak and the ones who are trapped within abusive relationships.
There were other groups chanting for the defense of gender fluidity and non-binary people within the feminist message; a group fighting for a higher age of consent in France and to change the definition of consent there (which has come under intense ridicule recently, as a rapist paedophile who attacked an 11 year old girl was recently released without charge); groups promoting consent, safe sex, and elaborating that sex work is real work and shouldn't be judged, as it is still the woman's career choice.
Everyone supported each other, sung each other's chants and each individual movement celebrated the others with unity and solidarity, which was such a beautiful thing to see as an individual within the crowd. The clowns I mentioned earlier continued up and down the march spreading love and good will, a nice addition to the good vibes already there.
We collated together with another woman's march that began at Hermannplatz, at approximately 5pm, at Oranienplatz, where the chants and speeches continued in both German and English, with various songs about or made by strong women being played on loud speakers across the plaza.
Overall, I noticed just how strong this movement is by being among these strong women and non-binary people, who persevere despite the multitude of problems and different issues in individual countries and situations, from domestic violence to equal pay, queer feminism to black and minority women's rights. All these women have a story that is worth listening to, and with every march they grow stronger as a united community and movement.