Women’s March: Meet the nervous mums protesting with their daughters

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Jennifer Stiens and her teenage daughter Chloe are both marching for the first time on Saturday
Jennifer Stiens and her teenage daughter Chloe are both marching for the first time on Saturday

This Saturday January 21, hundreds of thousands of women across the world are taking to the streets. In Washington, more than a quarter of a million are expected to march though the capital on the first official day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

In London, around 13,000 plan to attend a sister march. Many are seasoned activists – but a surprising number are new-time protesters who have been so upset by recent political events that they feel compelled to take to the streets.

Here, we speak to five mothers who have never marched before.

Fiona McGowan, 45, Cornwall

I’m not a protest marcher type at all. I work for a regional magazine in Cornwall, where we live, and my husband is a City banker. We have remarkably relaxed lives. But I’m going to march this Saturday with my daughter Freya, aged 9.

My motivation is a combination of things, really. Feeling frustrated by the global and political situation. I am married to an African-American man, so Barack Obama has been our household hero for the last eight years – and we want to keep his message of inclusivity and equality alive in our family.

Fiona McGowan and her family
Fiona McGowan and her family

The world seems very volatile at the moment, and as a mum, I want my children to feel that they can still make their words and thoughts heard. I think my daughter is old enough to understand that gathering together with masses of like-minded people to promote hope, kindness and tolerance is a good thing, and that we are not powerless. I want Freya to feel the passion and to believe that, although she’s only one little person, together with other little people, we can make a difference – even if it’s only psychological.

I’m hoping she will talk to her friends about it at school, that it will light a flame of defiance and strength for her to carry with her throughout her life. And of course, I want our son Obi, 6, to grow up with the same sort of understanding – of fairness and equality not just for women, but for all people of all backgrounds and creeds – though I think he was too young to come along with us.

Fiona McGowan and her family
Fiona McGowan and her family

I have a friend from Cornwall joining me. We will be driving to London after collecting my daughter from school on Friday, and staying the night with a friend on air beds. Other mum friends from London are coming too – there should be at least two other families.

Freya is going to make a placard. She didn’t know what to write, so her teacher suggested she watched Michelle Obama’s final speech as First Lady. After seeing it three times, before Freya said, “I want to write ‘Hope, not fear’.” That’s the message I’d like her to take away from all this.

Sally Otis, 36, Gloucestershire

I’m not particularly passionate about politics. But recently it’s felt like a lot of bigotry and hate has been brought out that seems to be going unchecked and unquestioned.

Sally Otis
Sally Otis

That really spurred me on and the women’s march started as a reaction to this. The march is a perfect storm of ideas and action, and something to do as a form of resistance, as well as show solidarity and support.

My husband, my five-year-old daughter and I will be attending. I gave it a lot of thought and originally I was going to go alone. But my husband and I talked about it, and I realised it’s also important for my daughter to have this experience as well.

Jennifer Stiens, 46, Battersea

Even though I’m originally from Washington DC, I’ve never been political. Last year was the first time I voted in the UK and I backed David Cameron.

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