By Sophia Hengelbrok & Thanos Theofanakis
—On March 11, a group of AUC students came together to partake in the national Women’s March in Amsterdam. Together with approximately 15,000 other participants, the students marched from Dam Square to Museumplein in order to stand up against discrimination and demand equal rights for all human beings.
The students gathered in the morning, in one of the common rooms at the AUC dorms, to craft and draw signs together for the protest before biking to the official meeting point of the Women’s March at Dam Square. Egle Budreviciute, a first-year Social Science major, said the march is “not only for a female voice to be heard, it is also for the acceptance of the diversity of female voices.”
The issue of inclusivity was a common thread amongst participants. Tirsa With, a first-year Social Science major, had already taken part in the first Women’s March in Amsterdam back in January. According to With, the previous march had received criticism for the lack of diversity in the issues advocated. She was optimistic that this was not going to be the case again. “In this one [on the 11th], there was more feedback from communities of colour and feminist initiatives to make it actual intersectional feminism,” said With.
The majority of AUC students at the event were female, but this did not imply that there were no male students present. “The strongest role models in my life have been my mom and really incredible friends, and it really hurts me that they’re not at an equal state yet,” said Jesse Hoogland, a first-year Science major. While he does not believe that the goal of gender equality is attainable in his lifetime, Hoogland is still convinced that “we have to fight all the same, step by step.”
First-year Social Science major Gregory Erickson felt motivated to participate because his mother and grandmother had attended Women’s Marches in the United States. “I want them to have rights too. I don’t want my mother to be paid less than my father. […] So it’s relevant to me,” said Erickson.
Arriving at Dam Square, the students merged with the other marchers, filling the streets with chants and cheers such as, “Love, not hate, makes the Netherlands great!” and “This is what a feminist looks like!”
Adding to the sounds of the march was AUC’s new student acapella group, which performed the song “Quiet” by MILCK several times throughout the day. Minouche Tas, a first-year Social Science major, elaborated on the initiative of the acapella group. “It’s basically five friends who sing together, this is our first time out.” According to Tas, the song was a rallying cry during the Women’s Marches after Trump’s inauguration, and Tas suggested it to the group. “We all wanted to go to the march, so we decided to do a full five-part harmony and sing it as many times as we can without our voices dying,” said Tas.
Different political parties and citizens’ initiatives were also partaking in the protest. “Since the Women’s March is something most GroenLinks supporters support, it is only logical that, especially with upcoming elections, about 80 party volunteers would arrange to march together,” said Tania Barkhuis, chairperson of GroenLinks Amsterdam.
“Our party has a feminist DNA, a feminist manifesto,” said Brigitte Sins, candidate for member of parliament for Artikel 1. Party leader Sylvana Simons added “When you’re part of a political party that is so centred around equality, it goes without saying that you’re present at an event like this.”
Marjolein Moorman, Chairperson of Partij van de Arbeid Amsterdam, stressed that women’s rights are equal to human rights, and emphasised the importance of protest marches like this to express support for equality for everyone. Leader of Piratenpartij Ancilla van de Leest added “our rights as human beings are the most important thing we have” and the importance of politicians leading by example.
Partij van de Dieren’s Eva Meijer told The Herring that “as the only political party in parliament with a female number one and two on their list, it is only logical for us to march here today.”
A number of citizen initiatives, such as the Burgerinitiatief Nederland Wereldland were also seen among participants of the march. “The election of Donald Trump is what sparked the idea for this organisation. We are worried that Geert Wilders might become prime minister here, thus we are marching today before the elections,” said founder Onno Bosma.
The march finished at Museumplein and was rounded off with speeches by different activists, musical performances and spoken word poetry. Before leaving the event, AUC students mingled, danced and took pictures with other marchers.
“I didn’t know that so many people from AUC were going. Some people just showed up. It’s really nice, I feel it creates this AUC community,” said Tekla Tevdorashvili, a second-year Humanities student. She was surprised by the number of AUC students that attended. Emilie Østmo, a first-year Social Science student also commented on the march “It was a very positive march I would say. I felt very empowered.” Tevdorashvili added to this “I felt this like, big societal thing, I don’t know how to explain it. We were all there for the same reasons. […] You feel really connected to different people.”