Women’s March: CBRM Version

“Just because we’ve made gains doesn’t mean we can’t go backwards,” says Dana Mount, co-organizer of the CBRM version of the Women’s March on Washington, “It’s up to us to be vigilant.”

Women's March, CBRM, Saturday 21 January 2017

Women’s March, CBRM, Saturday 21 January 2017

Mount and Pamela Johnson of the Coady Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership brought together over 100 people last Saturday in front of the CBRM Civic Centre in solidarity with the women (and men and children) marching in Washington to protest US President Donald Trump’s attitude toward women. The CBRM’s was one of 673 marches worldwide.

The goal, according to the official Women’s March on Washington website, was to:

[S]end a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

Here in CBRM, after introductory words from Johnson and Mount, the mega-phone was handed over to anyone in the audience with something to say. Speakers, including Madonna Doucette of Cape Breton’s Ally Centre and Helen Morrison of Transition House, touched on everything from wage equality to workplace harassment to domestic violence to LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex) issues.

 

 

I asked Johnson for her post-march summary and she told me, in an email:

It is heartening to see the kind of outpouring of passion, activism and support we all witnessed on Saturday. When you are an activist for women’s rights, you can feel frustrated and depleted because the struggle is so large, unyielding and layered. However, what happened this weekend was absolutely remarkable! We saw people coming together across movements, and identities, to acknowledge perversions of power, and how privilege can so easily turn to prejudice, especially when people feel they may lose that privilege. This was the first rally and march I have ever been to that acknowledged and challenged oppression and privilege in a way that was educational, engaging and moved people to act in a way that wasn’t shaming or finger pointing. The rally and the Women’s Marches around the world focused on our common needs as humans for safe communities, for a healthy planet, for the power to make decisions over our own bodies, for our bodies and our rights to be respected and equally protected.

Johnson says the organizers of the marches in Canada see what happened this weekend as a chance to build momentum:

In Sydney, Cape Breton and across the Maritimes there is much work to be done with respect to advancing women and girls’ rights, which includes transgendered women. Domestic violence rates are higher than the national average…Women are still making less money than men and men still dominate spaces where major decisions are made, at the head of organizations and politically. I often hear men say, “Well, why don’t women run for office?” And “Why are they complaining, but don’t come forward?” Well, guess what? They DO come forward and often get treated horribly, persecuted and harassed when they move into the public sphere. We just need to look West for a recent example, when former conservative MP Sandra Jensen crossed the floor because of harassment and intimidation from her party and was then subjected to horrific threats and aggression from men, which she read aloud in the Alberta legislature. We need to call out abuse so it isn’t hidden.

 

From left, Jana Reddick, Emily MacArthur, Helen Morrison, Pauline Chicarella and Lisa Grieg Simmons.

 

 

 

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