They say you shouldn’t run before you can walk. But what about marching?
Last week I took my fifteen-month-old daughter on a demonstration against the rise of extreme right wing politics and in defence of women’s rights.
On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America, my toddler, who can barely take five steps without falling over, was making a stand on Barnes Bridge in West London.
As part of the Build Bridges Not Walls movement we joined a small, but extremely enthusiastic, group to protest against Trump and the politics he represents.
It was a very cold day, but clear, and the sky over the Thames shone bright with hope and possibility.
Hauling the buggy up the steps onto the bridge felt like quite a challenge in itself. But we managed to make it, and my daughter was delighted to see there were even two dogs who had come along to make their feeling known.
I took her out of the pushchair so she could see the action, and she immediately began shouting, “Buh! Buh!”, at the seagulls on the river. However, to the casual observer, it could easily have been a call to rally the troupes.
Oh, the innocence of youth.
For my daughter, that day was all about the excitement of dogs and ducks.
She does not know that she has been born into a world so full of prejudice, sexism, violence and injustice.
She doesn’t know that as a woman she will have to climb invisible walls if she wants to succeed in a male-dominated world. And draw up bridges to protect herself from men who will try to take advantage of her womanhood.
We held the banner over the bridge for boats on the river and traffic on the riverbank to witness, before hanging it on a wall for the passing commuter trains to see.
Suddenly my daughter, who has been so shaky on her feet since she learned to walk, spotted the long, narrow footpath stretching out before her, and she was off.
One of our fellow protesters even admired her, “wide, feminist strides”. I didn’t bother to point out that she walks with her legs that far apart because it is the only way she can stay balanced upright.
My own insecurity at the plummeting drop into the icy river made me hurry after her and scoop her back up. But the barriers were actually perfectly secure and she was utterly fearless.
I hope she stays that way.