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These Women Are The First Of Many Protesting Against Trump Around The World

The first of more than 600 Women's Marches kicked off on Friday, when thousands of women took to the streets in Brussels, Tokyo and Osaka. Thousands more joined them in Sydney, Australia and Seoul, South Korea early Saturday.

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As newly sworn-in President Donald Trump's inaugural speech streamed across screens around the world on Friday, European women — and more than a few men — screamed back.

"From Brussels to the world, our voices will be heard!" #womensmarch #lights4rights

Seriously. They were shouting.

Organizers say nearly 2,000 people filled the Place de la Monnaie, in central Brussels, for a march timed to coincide exactly with the US presidential inauguration.

Instagram: @catarinarnaut

"Just the very fact that we’re all there together, we’re not at home crying in front of the television and agonizing — we’re out there organizing, creating enough energy to take forward, and seeing how we can use that energy to prevent this happening in Europe," said Emma Woodford, one of the co-organizers of the march, who started planning the event 10 days after the election.

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Woodford said the gathering was about "helping and supporting each other."

Happening now in #brussels the #lights4rights during #TrumpInauguration #InaugurationDay @LaMonnaieDeMunt… https://t.co/cJzE1zEeJY

"Obviously we were all outraged at the election results, so this is the result of our energy from that outrage," Woodford told BuzzFeed News by phone the day before the march. "Our key concern as Europeans is what impact Trump’s presidency would have, and how it [may] empower people on the far right who haven’t had a voice before to come out of the closet, if you like."

Every marcher had their own motivation.

#whyIMarch En solidarite avec l peuple American contre le fascisme d Trump,en solidarite avec les minorites et les… https://t.co/lYVXO2flsb

"In solidarity with the American people against fascism and Trump, in solidarity with minorities and Indigenous people," the demonstrator's tweet read.

"My personal anger was [about] Donald Trump sitting on that bus saying how he grabbed pussy," Woodford said, referring to a now-infamous video leaked during the campaign.

#whyIMarch Don't tell me to respect this president Tell this president to respect women Brussels #WomensMarch… https://t.co/6MgtxHIniz

"At that point [in the campaign] I just thought, There’s no way that man is going to be elected," Woodford said. "Surely a nation isn’t going to elect a man who says and does these things. And then — he was."

But Woodford said the march deliberately had no policy or political aim, beyond fighting "the rise of the far right. Within that spectrum, from far right to left, everyone is pretty much represented, and we don’t have any political backing or support," she said.

Some marchers were drawn to the square to stand up for reproductive rights, including access to abortion and post-abortion care.

Solidarité avec les femmes du monde entier! #womensmarch #lights4rights #womensrights

"When you have more conservative agendas coming in, the first line of attack is often a woman’s body," said Caroline Hickson, the regional director of International Planned Parenthood Federation's European Network. "We want to draw attention to threat in Europe of rollback of women’s rights, particularly reproductive rights."

For other women, the choice to march was difficult. "There are women sitting this one out because of abortion," a woman named Meredith wrote to BuzzFeed News in an email. "There are women sitting this one out because they don't feel solidarity across the racial divide.

#lights4rights #womensmarch in #brussels has started

Meredith’s views on abortion are shaped by her Christian faith and "go against the grain of progressive feminism," she wrote in advance of the march. Ultimately, her faith is also the reason she decided, in the end, to go.

"I believe we are all made in the image of God, and are sacred because of it. Trump is anathema to this concept and I cannot simply stand by and normalize his rise to power," she wrote. “I just think it's important that the world knows that there are women of faith (many different ones), who struggled with the decision to attend, but who are still showing up to show solidarity for the causes they think are most important….

“I cannot justify sitting this one out. It is too big. So while I acknowledge our brokenness as we move forward, and that there are intergroup obstacles that need to be addressed: I will be there,” she wrote.

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Across the square today, there was camaraderie.

Instagram: @yarnbombingbruxelles

There was music, like when Bai Kamara Jr., a singer from Sierra Leone, performed.

Instagram: @measaweyo

(If you want a sample of his sounds, try "Refugee," which probably didn't seem as prophetic when he recorded the video back in 2010.)

There was even some ironic humor.

Instagram: @rinkirwan

"Less than ironic construction company advertising at #lights4rights demonstration," the photographer wrote.

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And there was still some disbelief.

Instagram: @rinkirwan

There was definitely some deadpan gloom.

Darkness falls on #WomensMarch Brussels. But it's not as dark as it just turned in the US.

At the exact time Trump took the oath of office, there was a moment of silence.

#lights4rights march in Brussels minute of silence for human rights, women's rights, climate rights. Remember LOVE… https://t.co/0DprEsWWli

Nearly 700 groups have registered "sister marches" with the Women's March, which organized a massive rally for Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

Instagram: @stephanietang__

Roughly 200 of those are global marches.

Even non-marchers have chimed in with support for their US sisters. The Women Thrive Alliance, a global network of grassroots women's rights activists in 50 countries, collected solidarity messages from women — and men — in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Haiti, Liberia, Congo, Tanzania, India, and Zimbabwe.

Women also took to the streets in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday night.

Great pictures from the #Tokyo #womensmarch Thank you to our ongoing global support!

The Japan Times said 350 people joined in the march, which the newspaper said was organized by a local chapter of Democrats Abroad.

Many of the global protests have been careful to avoid political organization, sponsorship, or other overt partisan ties. Tom Schmid, chairman of Tokyo chapter, told the Times, "We’re not doing this as an anti-Trump protest. The politics of personal destruction has been something that has been occurring too much in the United States."

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And Osaka joined in, too.

ボード書き書き😎 中之島中央公会堂前で。 #WomensMarch #Osaka

For readers of Japanese, BuzzFeed Japan's Saki Mizoroki breaks down the background of the Women's March, and the role of marches in the fight for civil rights in the US in the 1960s (a point that has an eery overtone after reports that President Trump's first acts in office was removing Web pages about civil rights from the White House website and replacing the bust of Black civil rights leader (and pinnacle marcher) Martin Luther King, Jr., with a bust of Winston Churchill.)

And in Sydney, Australia, thousands came out on Saturday.

Lane Sainty / BuzzFeed

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of marchers set out Saturday morning (local time). Marchers told BuzzFeed News they were concerned about abortion rights, domestic violence, indigenous rights in Australia, and women being detained in refugee camps off the coast of Australia, an international issue that’s becoming increasingly controversial in the country.

Sarah Gilbert, mother of this toddler, said she was also concerned about voting rights for people of color in the US. “A lot of the rights we take for granted here are a lot more fragile over there,” she said.

At one point, a skywriter antagonized the crowd by spelling Trump’s name in the air; the crowd responded by chanting, ““Women, united, will never be defeated!”

Seoul saw women in the low thousands on Saturday, too, organizers say.

We finished our march with great success w more than 2,000 women and alleys. Sisters, now it's your turn!… https://t.co/CqXnRA2wjE

Erbil, Iraq, is one of the cities that will join in marching on Saturday. "I am not a woman, but I am from the people who believe men should support women's rights," organizer Issa Sufy said.

"Why Women March in Iraq?" https://t.co/4pf34FGx3M on @LinkedIn

Sufy said his female colleagues at the Alliance for Peace and Human Rights were the real drivers of his determination to organize the march, but he fielded questions because they don't speak English.

Demonstrators will march from the alliance’s headquarters to the Parliament and on to the Independent Board for Human Rights — both institutions he hopes will take notice of the march and support the cause of women’s rights, whatever way the political winds of the new administration may shift.

“With changing the president, we were somehow afraid this will affect the level of support we may have in the future,” he said. “Of course, women are women — in the US or in Erbil. They have problems. They want their rights to get improved … so we think we have some kind of mutual objectives and goals.”

With reporting by Lane Sainty of BuzzFeed News in Sydney.

UPDATE

We've added material from Sydney, Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo (where marchers on Friday beat out Brussels by some hours — apologies, Tokyo, for missing you in our earlier post!).

We can't add every city, but you can keep up with marches around the globe with @WM_Global, the global arm of the D.C. @womensmarch.

Jina Moore is the global women's rights correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Berlin.

Contact Jina Moore at jina.moore@buzzfeed.com.

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