Washington (Reuters): Hundreds of thousands of women filled the streets of major American cities to lead an unprecedented wave of international protests against President Donald Trump, mocking and denouncing the new US leader the day after his inauguration.

Women activists, outraged by Trump's campaign rhetoric and behavior they found to be especially misogynistic, spearheaded scores of marches in the United States and sympathy rallies around the world on Saturday. Organizers said they drew nearly 5 million protesters in all, far surpassing crowd expectations.

The demonstrations also highlighted strong discontent over Trump's comments and policy positions toward a wide range of groups, including Mexican immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and environmentalists.

In contrast to the heated, often shrill tone of the presidential campaign, and the grim imagery of "American carnage" Trump evoked in his inaugural address, the mood during Saturday's protests was largely upbeat, even festive.

Chanting such slogans as, "We need a real leader, not a creepy tweeter," and "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Trump has got to go," many marchers wore knitted pink cat-eared "pussy hats" in a reference to Trump's boast, in a 2005 video made public weeks before the election, about grabbing women by the genitals. While women constituted the bulk of the demonstrators, many were accompanied by husbands, boyfriends and children.