Speech given at Women’s March on London
On 21st January 2017 I opened the Women’s March on London with a speech about global political challenges and the power women in unifying humanity and to bring about change. This was the first time that I had spoken to such a large crowd – the Met Police estimated around one hundred thousand people marched that day.
Sorry it has taken me a while to post this up, I know some of you wanted access to the speech. Also this is the raw draft that I used to speak from on the day, so it is not written as an article.
“2016 was an awful year with the rise of dog whistle politics, xenophobic rhetoric and politicians and would be leaders who have rose to power on the back of the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies.
These same politicians exploited fears and stoked up divisions, in the name getting our country back.
We saw the very real and dangerous consequences of the mainstreaming of xenophobic rhetoric and far right sentiments, with the brutal murder of Jox Cox. Joe Cox was murdered for her passion for an inclusive society, for her belief that we have more in common.
I’m a British born Muslim woman. growing up in the 80’s I saw my parents regularly attacked by the National Front because of the colour of their skin. Now 30 years later we are living in a climate of fear, being a Muslim woman is very challenging. We (Muslim women) face multiple challenges and multiple prejudices, from structural discrimination to the fact that we more than likely to experience physical and verbal abuse on the street just because of who we are and how we dress.
As of yesterday (20/01/2017) we have a leader of the free world who questions our right to be treated as equal citizens, who wants to deny our basic freedoms and fundamental rights. All minorities, including immigrants, Eastern Europeans, LGBTQ communities have all faced a backlash from this new nasty politics of fear.
It would be too easy to only focus on the negative, to feel despair and hideaway but do not lose hope. Remember that Women have a long history of being at the forefront of fighting for equality and justice – as we are the ones who suffer the worst consequences of irresponsible men in power. History shows us that Women have changed the world, from the suffragette movement to Rosa Parks heroic act – and we can do it again. Women’s rights are human rights – let’s unite across boundaries of faith, ethnicity, gender and sexuality – for equality and justice for all, in ways that are so powerful, that we will tear down the walls of division that are being built by those who seek to divide us.
We will not let bigotry and hatred overcome us.
This new era of world politics is an opportunity for us to come together not in protest, but in celebration of the strength that our diversity gives us and stand united for justice, equality and peace.”