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Human rights and dignity Thousands of protesters march through Geneva

"Women's rights are human rights!" was one of the many protest chants heard – in both French and English – on Saturday.

(KEYSTONE / SALVATORE DI NOLFI)

On Saturday, over 2,000 people braved the cold in Geneva for the Women's March for Dignity – one of over 600 sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington, DC, held the same day.

Over 2.5 million people are believed to have participated in the sister marches, which were held worldwide – including in Antarctica – along with about 500,000 marchers in Washington. The march in Geneva was Switzerland’s only sister event.

“This grassroots movement has gone viral in an unprecedented way that no one could have anticipated. It’s inspiring to see how women and their allies around the world are standing up for the universal American values of freedom and justice for all,” said a spokeswoman for the sister marches, Yordanos Eyoel, in a press release on Tuesday.

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Geneva’s 800-metre march started with a rally at the Jardin Anglais, before taking protesters over the Mont Blanc bridge to the Rotonde du Mont-Blanc. Despite the march's official title, the crowd included both men and women of all ages.

The event featured musical entertainment and several speakers, including political scientist Daniel Warner, and novelist Anne Korkeakivi. A message of support from former Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who called on young women to get active in local and national politics, was also relayed by march organisers.

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Equality, diversity, inclusion

The stated goal of the Geneva sister march was to create "a world that respects the civil rights and dignity of all of its citizens,” and comes just one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

The Women's March on Washington is a specific reaction to Trump’s nationalist rhetoric and policy, and according to their mission statement, is intended to: “send a bold message to [the] new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

In addition to sexism, the movement also targets xenophobia, racism and denial of environmental problems like climate change.

Meanwhile, the Women's March Global webpage stipulates that it "is a proactive international movement, not a U.S. election-specific protest per se," and doesn't specifically mention Trump.

"We must defend democratic values," said Geneva march coordinator Karen Olson in a statement.

Nevertheless, anti-Trump sentiment was strong in Geneva, with many protest slogans and posters targeting the new US president directly.

“As an American, I think it’s important to show solidarity with women in America and all over the world,” Alexandra Dufresne, who moved from the US to Zurich just six months ago, told swissinfo.ch.

“For me this is an issue of the rights of immigrant women and refugee women. President Trump has spoken about a wall, and of capping the number of refugees allowed in the US. I think their rights is absolutely a feminist issue. We have a duty to protect all women from deportation.”

swissinfo.ch/cl


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