WASHINGTON Early Saturday, Ekram Seid hopped on a city bus with her sister, Yasmin, and made the trek across town for the Womens March on Washington.Neither had been to a political march before, but they felt a responsibility to go to this one.
Im the oldest of three girls, Ekram told The Huffington Post, standing in a sea of people chanting and waving signs advocating social justice issues and opposing President Donald Trump. So I just came here because I have to lead by example for them that its important that we speak on the issues that matter to us. And sometimes we have to take action.
Ekram and Yasmin stood out in the crowd. Both are under 5 feet tall. Both wore hijabs. And both are teenagers. Ekram, 18, is even shorter than her younger sister and has braces. Yasmin, 13, stood quietly by her big sister. But once they spoke, they were far beyond their years. Both described what is at stake for Muslim women and other minorities if they dont engage in politics and stand up for their rights.
Donald Trump doesnt scare me, Ekram said. Its that its 2017, and there are people with this very provisional mindset, that kind of scares me and worries me. But Im not scared for me. Im scared for my sisters. I feel like I can handle anything.
Yasmin, who is in eighth grade, said she wanted to be at the march because I wanted to hear what people had to say and Im a feminist, so it means a lot to me.
Asked what it means to be a feminist, Yasmin replied, Womens empowerment and the belief that women can do anything men can do. And can do it better.
Ekram, who starts college on Monday and wants to be an art therapist, chimed in, I think everyone should be a feminist because women give life. If youre not a feminist, youre not supporting your mother. Youre not supporting yourself.
Ekram and Yasmin navigated the masses with neon green posters that readGirls Just Want To Have Fun-Damental Human Rights! and Women Can Do It All. Theyve lived in D.C. since 2007, when their family moved from Ethiopia. Yasmin said she wished she was born in the United States so she could run for president.
Maybe Congress will change the law back, that you dont have to be born here, she said. If Congress changes the law, then Im going to run for president.
When HuffPost suggested she could run for Congress, Yasmin replied, Yeah, but I want to be president.
You know, a lot of presidents have a background in politics, Ekram offered.
Yeah… said Yasmin, uninterested and trailing off. I want to go to medical school and law school. Women can do it all.
Throughout Trumps rise over the past year, and the ugly anti-Muslim rhetoric thats come along with him, Ekram and Yasmin said theyve gotten used to strangers coming up to them and offering words of support.
I guess theres not a lot of Muslim people in the McDonalds community, said Yasmin. When I go to McDonalds, people are like, Oh, keep doing what youre doing! Dont listen to Donald Trump! Or something.
There have been instances, though, of people treating them differently because of the way they look. When their family was at the airport recently getting ready to board a plane, Yasmin overheard one of the bag checkers say to another that they needed to thoroughly go through their familys bags because we dont want any problems on the plane.
I felt hurt, she said. I had my hijab on, and my mother doesnt speak full English and didnt understand what he was talking about.
But Yasmin who is, again, 13 decided this was one of those moments where speaking out mattered.
I went up to the lady [behind the desk] and I was like, You guys need to stop discriminating against us as Muslims because thats not fair. You wouldnt do that to anybody else, she said. I just left it at that.
Yeah, laughed Ekram. Thats my sister.