Photo courtesy of Verena O'Malley

On Jan. 21 of 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, according to Politics USA, an estimated 2.9 million women and men alike marched in cities throughout the United States, making it the largest protest in U.S. history. I am proud to have been one of the strong women to speak up that day.

That morning, upon arriving at the DU station of the light rail, the platform was packed with women, men, children and a lot of pink hats. Every single person there was in support of similar ideals: freedom, equality, women’s rights, feminism and a general request that women be treated as human beings. Not only was the platform packed to the brim, but train after train headed north had no standing room.

However, all of that was nothing compared to the scene of downtown Denver on that day. Streets swelled with people as the city supported and prepared for this massive march. In Denver alone there was an estimated 100,000 people, according to the Denver Post. Young boys held signs stating “These hands will learn respect” and elderly women boasted that they were “nasty grandmas.”

The magic was in the signs, the unity, the support of women for other women and the understanding that we are not giving up and will continue to work to have our voices heard, as we have for decades. Along with our sisters and brothers in countless other cities  and continents, even in Antarctica, we marched that day to tell the world that we are a powerful and vital part of the world’s population.

To explain it to those people that simply don’t understand, I would like to say this day was for all of us. It was to remind the world that the continued mistreatment of women is not acceptable. Telling half the population what they can do with their bodies is NOT okay: it’s a violation of freedom. Openly objectifying half the population is NOT okay, it’s dehumanizing. It isn’t about one man that said some distasteful things, it’s about the millions of people that dismissed it and supported him anyway. It is about the systemic oppression that teaches girls from a young age that they are not as smart or as capable.

One important thing that is left out of most conversations is the signs at the Women’s Marches that read “I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matter march right?” Although this was an incredible turnout and show of support for women, we have to remember other oppressed groups that fight every day for their own rights but do not get as much attention or turnout. Some of us may not directly understand what it feels like to be discriminated against for our race or our religion, but we have to acknowledge and fight alongside people that do.

When half of the population is underrepresented in government, in corporations and in positions of leadership, we fail to understand or be capable of making decisions on their behalf. We cannot afford to overlook what this election season has represented–a reassurance that sexism and racism are not behind us.

On Jan. 21, I marched with millions of women, men, babies, teenagers and dogs who all empowered each other to be brave, work hard and keep fighting.