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Thousands expected for women's march Saturday

Thousands expected for women's march Saturday
© Getty Images

The Women’s March on Washington started with just one Facebook post.

Now it’s expected to draw tens of thousands of people Saturday to what’s become the leading inauguration weekend event for President Trump’s opponents.

Marchers will start meeting at at 10 a.m., just a few blocks from the site where Trump took the oath of office just one day earlier.

“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights,” the organizers say on the march’s website. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

After a rally from 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., participants will leave their meeting location around 3rd Street SW and Independence Ave. SW for the march.

While the number of attendees isn’t expected to eclipse the roughly 800,000 people that were expected to attend the inauguration, more than 200,000 people have RSVP’d on the march’s Facebook page, leading the Metrorail service to expand Saturday train service. 

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And thousands more say they’ll attend the hundreds of other sister marches across America that Saturday morning.

Bus permits issued for the two events can’t tell the whole story—there are a slew of other ways for attendees to travel to Washington for both events and some buses may not be attending the major events. But as of Thursday, the D.C. Department of Transportation told The Hill that 447 buses had permits to park in the city on Friday, while 1,816 have permits for Saturday.

The rally stands as an example of the division that remains in the country more than two months after the most contentious election in modern history, when Trump’s victory kept Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCongress won't end the wars, so states must Democrats say it's up to GOP to stop Trump 2024 Hillary Clinton to speak at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders summit MORE from becoming the first female president in American history. 

Many women also bristled at the various controversial comments Trump made about women during the campaign, as well as the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and the release of 2005 audio where Trump talked about groping women without their consent. A CNN poll taken this week found that Trump has a 63 percent unfavorable rating among women.

Clinton won 54 percent of female voters on Election Day, according to exit polls, compared to Trump’s 42 percent. 

While the inauguration itself was the weekend’s main event, there have been other signs of enthusiasm for the Women’s March. A temporary shop in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood that sells march merchandise had lines stretching for more than a city block this week, while a number of bars are donating portions of their profits this weekend to charities in support of the cause.

The march is the brainchild of Teresa Shook, a Hawaii grandmother who proposed the idea in a post-election Facebook post, only to see it balloon into a national effort. The march gained popularity with the help of posts in the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation Facebook, a pro-Hillary Clinton group with a primarily female membership. 

The original name, the Million Women March, was adapted from a 1997 protest for unity for black women. After the name ignited controversy over the use of that name, the march was renamed the Women’s March on Washington, an homage to the 1963 civil rights march. Non-white activists were also added as organizers.

March organizers didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The rally will include a number of prominent speakers, including actress America Ferrera, feminist author Angela Davis, actress Ashley Judd, Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards, feminist activist and journalist Gloria Steinem, actress Scarlett Johansson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, along with some mothers whose sons were killed in prominent encounters between black men and the police.

Another group of women—Four Women for All Women—have already embarked on a 252-mile run from Harlem in New York City to Washington with plans to join the Women’s March on Saturday. Their marathon journey is raising money for Planned Parenthood. 

A handful of men, including CNN commentator and former Obama official Van Jones and liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, are also listed as rally speakers.

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), who boycotted Trump’s inauguration, said he would attend the march with his wife and daughter.

Along with the environmentally focused Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Planned Parenthood is one of the main partners of the march.

Planned Parenthood was a flashpoint during the presidential election, with its fate remaining in limbo in the GOP Congress. While it has long been illegal to spend federal funds on abortion, Republican leaders have vowed to stop the organization from receiving any federal money as part of a planned ObamaCare repeal.

But Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion rights’ message has created some tension between the organizers and potential anti-abortion marchers who say they feel unwelcome at the event.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s incoming White House counselor who became the first female to successfully manage a presidential campaign, will speak at next week’s anti-abortion rights March for Life Rally. 

Steinem, one of the Women’s March’s most high-profile attendees, sought to push back on the idea of a rift in an op-ed published Thursday in The Boston Globe.

“Woman-led and all-inclusive, the March is founded on the simple idea that we as human beings are linked, not ranked,” she wrote. 

“It isn’t abortion that strains unity, it’s religious or political forces that would deny women—or men—bodily integrity.” 

But the organizers, who touted the event’s inclusivity on its Facebook page, stress that all are welcome.

“This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up,” the organizers wrote on the march’s website.

“We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.”