On January 21, 2017 women from around the world came together in cities and towns for a historic event known as the Women’s March. Inspired by the Women’s March in the United States women around the world peacefully came together in solidarity and marched in the spirit of “equality, diversity and inclusivity.” More than a million women gathered in Washington, D.C. In Calgary, thousands of women came together at City Hall.
A year later, plans are underway for a second Women’s March, both in Washington and in other locations around the world, including Calgary. The Calgary Women’s March will take place on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 12 p.m. People will gather at Bankers Hall (315 8 Ave SW) to march toward City Hall. Staff and volunteers of the Women’s Centre will meet earlier (11:45am) outside of the Central Public Library to head over as a group, so if you are looking for a friendly face to march with, please feel free to join us! Organizers of the Calgary march have also launched an online campaign using the hashtags #WhyIMarch and #WomensMarchYYC. Follow on Twitter @wmyyc.
In the year since the first Women’s March, in both Canada and the U.S., public attention on inequality and discrimination facing women has become a big part of the public conversation. In October of this year, allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men triggered the launch of the #MeToo movement, sparking a critical conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace. From Hollywood, to the United States’ Congress, to national radio and TV, to the Canadian art community, it seems that no workplace has been left out from these allegations and this conversation.
Like the Women’s March, the #MeToo movement has encouraged not only an important and timely conversation about what we mean by discrimination, inequality and misogyny, but also about what a feminist response looks like in this moment of social change. Important context on the #MeToo movement, its origins, successes, challenges, opportunities and futures can be found in the cultural conversation of today.
What has been powerful about both the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement has been the connections between women that have taken place. For younger women, who don’t remember the women’s marches of the 1970s and 1980s, these movements have provided one of the first opportunities to become involved in a wide social movement around gender equality. A second important part of these movements has been the efforts – not always perfectly done – to keep the conversation focused on an intersectional feminism that takes into account the different ways women experience power and privilege. The leadership by women of colour in the United States has been key to the success of the Women’s March. Their mission has been shaped by an intersectional feminism that addresses issues of violence against women, LGBTQIA rights, workers rights, the rights of disabled women, and immigrant rights (among other unity principles).
The fact remains that much work still needs to be done. In Calgary, women are underrepresented in all levels of governments, on boards and in decision-making roles. This needs to change. Women are far more likely than men to experience violence. This is especially the case for indigenous women and women of colour. This needs to change. Women continue to earn significantly less than men and are more likely to work in jobs without security or benefits. This also needs to change. The Women’s March may not change the world, but it is an opportunity to come together, in solidarity, across differences, and imagine a world that is better, safer and more just for women.
This post was written by Bronwyn, co-chair of the Social Policy Committee.