On Saturday the 21st of January 2017, nearly 1000 protesters marched through Heidelberg’s Old Town in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. In doing so they joined over 5 million marchers worldwide, including marchers in all 50 US states and in more than 70 other countries, standing up for women’s rights as human rights, for equality, for the interests of migrants and refugees, for environmental protection, and the values of liberal democracy writ large. Heidelberg was not the only German Women’s March; others took place in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Frankfurt, and Munich. Unlike most of the others, Heidelberg Women’s March was organized not by an existing group such as Democrats Abroad, but rather by 8 women from Heidelberg and surrounding regions - all American citizens - who came together specifically for the purpose of organizing the Heidelberg march. For some this was the first march they had ever participated in, let alone organized; for others, it was a continuation of long-standing feminist, environmentalist, and other types of activism.
The Heidelberg Women’s March organizers originally expected about fifty participants; later their hopes were raised by RSVPs for a couple of hundred. Having 1000 people participate - despite the freezing temperatures - was beyond wonderful. After an initial gathering at Friedrich-Ebert-Platz and the singing of “We Shall Overcome”, the mass of people marched the route of just over 1 kilometer to Heidelberg’s Rathaus (City Hall), where more songs were followed by brief speeches in which those gathered were strongly encouraged to engage politically and socially, locally as well as globally.