Women’s March on Washington kicks off Down Under

Australia and New Zealand first to hold rallies as part of a global movement reacting to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Women''s March in Berlin
Thousands of rallies are due to take place in the US and around the world as part of the Women's March on Washington [Oliver Weiken/EPA]

Thousands of locals and expat Americans have taken to the streets in several cities in New Zealand and in Australia, kicking off the global Women’s March on Washington movement following the inauguration of Donald Trump, the US president.

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of people gathered on Saturday to march through the city.

Organisers said the demonstration was more than just about Trump.

“We’re doing this because we don’t want to stand by and let the bigotry rhetoric of Donald Trump prevail,” Ayebatonye Abrakasa told Al Jazeera.

“Today, we’re standing up for our country, for the rights of the indigenous people, for the rights of the refugees who have been held unfairly at Manus and Nauru islands, for the rights of women who deserve to be able to own their own bodies. We’re fighting for everyone, this is an all-inclusive event.”

Local media in New Zealand reported that more than 1,000 women, men and children marched in the country’s biggest cities, Auckland and Wellington.

What began as a single march planned for Washington, DC, has expanded to sister marches in US cities and around the world.

Organisers say that thousands of rallies were planned in US and international cities.

READ MORE: What a Donald Trump victory means for women

“I’ve always had a passion for women’s issues, in particular, and this really is a time that we need to put down our lattes, pick up a sign and start marching,” Californian-born march organiser Cindy Buell, who has lived in New Zealand since 2005, said in a press release in advance of the march.

In Washington, celebrities including Janelle Monae, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd will appear at the demonstration that is expected to draw some 200,000 people.

The platform presented by the Washington march organisers calls for ending violence against women, strengthening of workers’ rights, reproductive rights, environmental justice, immigrant rights and more.

The idea of a rally led by women went viral on social media after Trump won the US election on November 8.

It then coalesced into an organised march, with a committee made up of activists such as Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland.

Bland is credited with creating t-shirts emblazoned with “nasty women”, a phrase Trump once used to describe his main Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

There were early concerns that the march was spearheaded by only white feminists.

Women’s March on Washington later released a statement saying the march was “a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds”.

At least 45,000 people with  disabilities were expected to march, organisers told Vox Media.

The Sydney march took a stance for women's rights and refugees [Andrew Thomas/Al Jazeera]
The Sydney march took a stance for women’s rights and refugees [Andrew Thomas/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies