As I approached Trafalgar Square on January 19th, I heard the echoes of screams of what I hoped would be thousands of women and men responding to the speeches of inspiring activists leading the rally at the end of the 2019 Women’s March. I was unable to make it for the march itself, but was hoping that the rally would be the strongest, most attended part of the day.

Last year, I attended Vancouver, Canada’s Women’s March. It was a bitterly cold and drizzly day, and while more than 5,000 people attended, the turnout was still less than a third of 2017s inaugural march. Similarly, this year’s march in London had just a fraction of the 100,000 people strong attendance of the 2017 march.

Walking through the square, I saw dozens of hilarious, punchy, and colourful (in both visuals and language) signs being brandished by women and men of all ages and nationalities. But I also saw how small this crowd was, maybe a couple hundred people at most. It seemed that many people had gone home after the march, or hadn’t turned up at all. I had been holding on to so much hope that this march in one of the most powerful, vibrant, exciting cities in the world would be full of inspiration and activism, chants and songs, packed with strong people fighting for change. Instead, I saw dwindling crowds and speakers fighting hard to keep the crowd engaged and reacting.

This wasn’t just an unfortunate feature of the London Women’s March either. All around the world, from all across North America to cities through Europe, numbers and engagement in the marches dropped sharply from previous years. Why? Has this cause lost its importance? Have people just lost interest?

This year, the Women’s March organizers have been involved in accusations of anti-Semitism, causing people to boycott the march. Bad weather in many cities was cited as being the reason for dwindling numbers. In 2017, people had something to rally around and to fight - Donald Trump. Perhaps this year, despite Trump still being in office and still remaining just as degrading and overtly sexist, people have grown jaded and used to his presidency. Perhaps the ‘femi-Nazi’ image portrayed by media has cast a shadow on the march and the whole idea of advocating for equal rights. Perhaps it not that people don’t care, but that they feel like nothing they do will bring change.

In my opinion, it’s at times like these when it is most important to continue fighting, to continue marching. Peaceful protests do make a difference. The Civil Rights movement is proof. Gandhi's Salt March across India is proof. The Monday Demonstrations in Berlin are proof. The Anti-War Movement against the Vietnam War is proof.

It breaks my heart a little bit when it feels like the world has stopped listening and reacting to injustices. We are in a time of immense change, and we have a chance to be heard, to make a difference. That is such a beautiful thing, if we take advantage of it. We must take advantage of it.