Thousands of women brought central London to a standstill to protest over violence against women and girls, days after International Women’s Day.
Gathering for the 10th annual Million Women Rise march, women and young girls marched through Oxford Circus chanting “Whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no”.
Making their way to Trafalgar Square, the protesters, including anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigners, called for “safe streets” and “no excuse for violent men”.
Ann Samuel, a student from London who attended the march said: “It’s about awareness and women raising their voices and making themselves heard.
“I think more needs to be done against domestic abuse, domestic violence for women. They say when one woman stands up, they stand up for all women.
“Services are being cut and we can’t let that happen. It affects everyone one way or another so being here makes a difference.”
Celebrating its 10th year, the march was formed to campaign against the “global pandemic” of male violence against women.
The protest follows International Women’s Day and comes weeks after the Women’s March, which drew millions to the streets worldwide.
Founder of the march Sabrina Qureshi praised the “electric” event. She said the march was necessary to “change society”, particularly as the movement was “really underfunded”.
The 44-year-old counsellor said: “A lot of us have worked in domestic violence and sexual violence. It got to a point where I was getting paid to give a woman space, but that space afterwards – her healing – wasn’t being supported by society or the government, because male violence is so normalised.
“So we had to do something more, not just the therapy. We have to change society, hearts and minds.”
Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, Ms Qureshi believes the march has come a long way on its 10th anniversary.
She said: “It started off because on International Women’s Day 10 years ago, there wan’t much happening. It wan’t really known and we felt that we had to make a critical mass.
“We believe that we don’t need (celebrities). We’ve got women here that represent all walks of life, from all over England, from Bolivia, from Eritrea. We’ve got variety. I believe that in our creativity and our self-organising, we will end domestic violence.”