On January 21, the day following Donald Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to turn up for what could be the largest women’s demonstration in more than a decade: the Women’s March on Washington. One of the event’s cochairwomen and noted activist Carmen Perez, 40, answers a few key questions about the protest.

Glamour: Why are you marching?
Carmen Perez: I’m Mexican American and our president-elect marginalized and targeted my community—as well as Muslim, LGBTQI, and other communities—with his hateful rhetoric. I wanted to ensure that I was setting the vision and including communities that are most marginalized. I want a young girl to look at my leading this [march] and realize that she can do it one day—she, herself, can be a leader. When I was growing up, there weren’t many [female] leaders that looked like me. I want to change that. I want to ensure that girls can see themselves on that stage, that girls can see themselves reflected in leadership positions, and that girls feel empowered on January 21and beyond.

Glamour: Among the people who have reached out to you, what are their reasons for marching?
CP: There are those who want their voices heard, those who have been working on women’s rights, immigration, or criminal justice reform, and those who felt pain and outrage after the election. There are also those who have never participated in any type of movement—grandmothers who woke up on November 9 feeling so defeated. Their form of resistance is coming together in a very radical way.

Glamour: What are you hoping comes out of this protest?
CP: The feeling of 500,000—even a million—women coming together from all different walks of life? That’s radical resistance. It will foster a spirit of togetherness, elevate morale, and say that there’s a force to be reckoned with in this country: women. We won’t go away until our rights are protected.

Glamour: What kind of message do you want this march to send to Donald Trump?
CP: I want our president-elect to know that women will stand together and we will raise our voices. We will not allow this administration to come into our communities and take away everything we’ve fought for. We are going to ensure that he hears us loud and clear, and we will not go away until our rights are protected. We will send a message to our president-elect that he cannot continue the type of messaging that dominated his campaign.


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Glamour: And what action do you hope comes from the march?
CP: We have a team working on policies to ensure that women’s rights are human rights and to protect our Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQI brothers and sisters and people of color. But the march itself is a way to connect to one another. This is an entry point to get involved. We want to leverage this energy and make sure people are connected so we can keep the momentum going. This is just the beginning of something larger. The real work is going to come after the march and we’re preparing for that.

Glamour: What would you say to those critics who think it’s disrespectful to march the day after the inauguration?
CP: If that’s a form of disrespect, I think people need to reevaluate what disrespect means. We are grounded in the ideology of Dr. King. Coming together is something so many women need now.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. A previous version appeared in the February 2017 print edition of Glamour.

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