Bay Area Women's Day marches draw thousands of activists and first-time protestors

Rallies, marches, protests and strikes drew crowds of people together in San Francisco and Oakland for a full day of events marking International Women's Day.

Outside Oakland City Hall Tuesday night, a rally sparked passionate responses from people who came from backgrounds as diverse as the issues they were fighting to support.

Many wore red, the color designated for the day to show solidarity with women worldwide.

"To do anything we have to do it in solidarity as a group together. To get anything done it's not just one person ever," said Tranesha Cooks, one of the organizers of the Oakland event.

Police said the estimated crowd size was 500 or more as marchers proceeded through the streets of Oakland.

A six-year-old girl carrying a sign that read "Youth Power" walked with her mother. They traveled from Mendocino to take part in the march.

"There's been a lot of talk of hate and discord and so I wanted to show her how there's also celebrations that can be had at this time for women and for immigrants people of color." said the girl's mother Rachel Sapin.

Wage equality, an end to sexual harassment, and abortion rights were other issues on marchers' minds on this international women's day.

"Transgender women's rights. My wife is trans and so am I and you know that comes with problems like access to healthcare, access to employment. So every way sexism affects women, hits trans women super hard," said Jamie Gardner, who was with a group from the Democratic Socialists of America.

Some said it was the political climate that drew them out.

"I think there is a lot more activism now. I think a lot of Trump's agenda is very contrary to what many people think is best for the planet," said Aixa Gannon, an Oakland resident who came with her daughter Lea.

Similar sentiments were shouted out in San Francisco, where a group of some one dozen people protested at Union Square Tuesday afternoon.

"This is a president that has publicly bragged about molesting women," said Reiko Redmonde, from the group that marched with signs.

Earlier in the day, at San Francisco city hall, women in red left work for an International "Day Without Women Strike."

Another crowd of more than 500 people met at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza where they held a rally and then marched to the Immigration Customs Enforcement office in the financial district.

"Mothers and fathers are being taken literally stolen from their families. I mean you can't get any deeper or more fundamental around women's rights than that...their families are being shattered," said a woman who only wanted to be identified as Elia.

"I think people who weren't civically engaged before, like myself, need to be out here," said Janet Simpson of Danville, who said it was her first time attending a protest march.

By Tuesday evening, the marches had ended peacefully.

Oakland's new police chief, the first woman to head the department, said she wanted to observe and learn from officers and the community at the event, so she was out with police officers and the protestors monitoring the march.