And She Marched…
Revolutionary protests held by women
Since the inception of society and government as we know it, the phrase “It’s a man’s world” has rung true. Over time and with the constant state of flux in society, there have been a series of revolutionary events by women to change the status quo.
Aba’s Women’s War of 1929
Also known as the Aba Women’s Riot was an anti-colonial revolt organised to remedy social, political, and economic grievances. Colonialism had changed the roles of women in society which previously allowed them to participate in government through the major role they played in the market and by marriage to elites.
Sparked by the enforcement of direct taxation, when Madame Nwanyeruwa, a widow at the time from the town Oloko was confronted by a census conductor. She rallied the village market women who under her advice led a peaceful protest encompassing women from six ethnic groups (Ibibio, Andoni, Orgoni, Bonny, Opobo, and Igbo) from November to December 1929. The protests were carried out on a scale that the colonial state had never witnessed in any part of Africa and forced many warrant chiefs to resign to be replaced by women. Some women were also appointed to serve on the native courts and the protest inspired other women’s movements in the country.
Women’s March on Versailles, 1789
The Women’s March on Versailles was one of the most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women on the 5th of October 1789 in the marketplaces of Paris rioting over the scarcity of bread. The market women found allies in revolutionaries who were seeking political reform and constitutional monarchy for France. The march grew into a mob of thousands that ransacked the city armory for weapons. They marched to the Palace of Versailles where they overtook the palace and successfully pressed their demands upon King Louis XVI and returned him and Marie Antoinette to Paris. According to The Guardian UK, “The Women’s March on Versailles was a literal and forceful assertion of the people’s sovereignty over the king. It was a defining moment in the revolutionary history of democracy.”
Icelandic Women’sStrike, 1975
Icelandic women who worked outside of the home before 1975 earned less than sixty percent of what men earned. Others were unable to get jobs because they did most of the housework and child-rearing in the home. They decided to strike to show the indispensable work of women to Iceland’s economy and
society as well as protest wage discrepancy and unfair employment practices. It was called the “Woman’s Day Off”. On the 24th of October of that year, 25,000 women gathered on the streets of Reykjavik (in a nation of 220,000) and 90% of the female population did not go to work, cook, clean or take care of children. This was certainly a wake up call as Vigdis Finnbogadottir became the nation’s first female president five years later.
Petrograd International Women’s Day Demonstration, 1917
On March 8th 1917, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) a demonstration of women textile workers began enveloping the city and by midday there were tens of thousands of mainly women congregating on the Nevsky Prospekt, the principal avenue in the centre of Petrograd, with banners of demand for change such as, “feed the children of the defenders of the motherland”. This was as a reaction to the weak state of the economy due to the First World War. A week later, the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II resigned and the interim government granted women the right to vote. March 8th was declared a national holiday in Soviet Russia in 1917 and has been celebrated as International Women’s Day since then.
Women’s March on Washington, 2017
The Women’s March was a worldwide protest on the 21st of January 2017 against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The aim was to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion and workers’ rights. Concerns were spurred due to statements and positions attributed to Trump during his election campaign and his past which were regarded as
misogynistic and offensive and thus the march acted as a counter-election movement. According to The Independent newspaper, this was the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history.