President Donald Trump's "global gag rule" cutting US funding to groups that offer abortion services and Russia's decision to ease punishment for domestic violence cast a long shadow on the annual gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women
New York (AFP) - Throngs of demonstrators, mostly women and many wearing red, rallied in New York and Washington on Wednesday to protest against President Donald Trump's policies toward women on International Women's Day.
In New York, nearly 2,000 people gathered on an unseasonably warm day at the edge of Central Park two blocks from Trump Tower, the Republican president's long-standing New York home and headquarters of his property company.
Red was everywhere, in a hat, bandana or coat, while others wore the pink "pussy hats" that came to symbolize the giant women's march on Washington the day after Trump's January 20 inauguration.
From the podium, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and a range of other community activists exhorted demonstrators to "keep resisting" and "keep motivated." Another New York rally is scheduled Wednesday night.
Arielle Datz, who works in publishing, said she took the day off -- dubbed "Day Without a Woman" -- to take part in the demonstration and described the speeches as "very inspiring."
"We hope it won't be four years... but we will keep it up as long as we have to," she told AFP in reference to Trump's four-year term.
Many men also were protesting, such as Corey Ford, who closed his small venture capital firm to take to the streets.
"Fifty percent of our team, eight employees, and 50 percent of the CEOs of our companies are women," he said. "This is a women's demo, anti-Trump is part of it but it's not all of it."
In Washington, at Lafayette Park across from the White House, many of the several hundred demonstrators carried signs decrying Trump's order blocking US aid to foreign nonprofits that provide or actively promote abortions.
"Donald Trump has got to go!" and "This is what democracy looks like!" the crowd chanted.
Susanne Lowen, a 55-year-old baker, decried the president's plan to link foreign aid to a prohibition against disseminating information on birth control as "cruel and immoral."
Plenty of anger was also directed at other Trump administration policies.
Sheila Collins choked on her words when she tried to explain the many reasons she was protesting, ranging from Trump's refusal to release his tax returns to controversial statements by cabinet officials like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
"Every day I wake up thinking, 'this can't be real,'" said the 40-year-old marketing director with a sign that read "Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Vote."
"They are doing things to undermine our democracy," she said.
As the crowd streamed into Lafayette Park, knots of demonstrators broke off and paused to take selfies with the White House as a backdrop.
Police officers clad in black, several on bicycles, discreetly eyed the crowd from a distance.
For demonstrator Tess Thapalia, 20, the main issue was what she described as "reproductive justice."
"These are our bodies. And we decide what to do with them. For anyone else to say what to do with them is truly shameful," said Thapalia, a college student from New York.