Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

A march that began as a protest against a newly minted American president has morphed into a broad pushback against long-standing systems and a call for empowerment for all marginalized groups, advocates and organizers said Friday.

As dozens of communities across Canada – including Vancouver, prepare to host rallies marking the anniversary of last year’s historic Women’s March on Washington, those tasked with organizing the events said they feel a sense of momentum that they could not have predicted when they first took to the streets in 2017.

At that time, more than half a million women converged on the U.S. capital in protest of freshly inaugurated President Donald Trump, whose secretly recorded remarks about taking sexual liberties with women fuelled accusations of misogyny both before and after his election.

Participants in those original marches say their fears about the incoming administration have come to pass, but say other social forces have put wind in their sails and made them feel their cause is further ahead now than it was a year ago.

On Saturday’s one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, at least 38 Canadian communities from coast to coast plan to host marches, rallies or other events.

Sara Bingham, co-executive director of Women’s March Canada, says the high number of planned events is just one sign of the momentum that believers in the cause are feeling.

“It’s incredibly positive and optimistic and exciting,” Bingham said of the mood among local organizers. “They’re mystified and amazed that they can affect change in such a quick way.”

Bingham and other activists point to a shift in the way women’s voices have been heard and acknowledged in the months since the original march.

They all reference the #MeToo phenomenon, an outpouring of women speaking out against their experiences with sexual harassment. That outpouring was itself the result of powerful men, including Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, being called to account for alleged sexual misconduct.

Marches both in Canada and abroad are focused on the future.

In the U.S. the major march organized to honour last year’s event also has its sights set on upcoming elections.

Rather than returning to Washington, American activists are holding a “Power to the Polls” rally in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday, launching a voter registration tour and putting out the message that the next step is all about votes.

They say they’re looking ahead to the 2018 midterm elections, hoping to propel more progressive candidates into public office and deal the White House and the all-Republican government a major setback.

Organizers south of the border cite last year’s women’s march as the catalyst for many subsequent political actions, including successful pushback against many proposed cuts to the U.S. health-care system.

“The march set the tone for the resistance,” said U.S. activist Linda Sarsour. “If you look at so many of the fights that happened this year…it was led by women.”

Bingham said that though Canada’s political landscape is less overtly contentious, there is no lack of inequities to speak out against.

She said women’s marches around the world are adopting a model dubbed H.E.R.S., which stands for Health, Economic security, Representation, and Safety. Those guiding principles, she said, make it possible for more communities to mobilize around issues that are most important to them.

For Frances Olimpo of Toronto, that issue became the welfare of refugees. The 36-year-old attended the Women’s March on Washington last year fuelled initially by anger at Trump’s election, but returned home with a different focus.

The route she walked with the hundreds of thousands of men and women on the streets that day took her past outpourings of support from total strangers, including children offering lemonade to out-of-town visitors and Washington residents throwing their doors open in solidarity.

She said those sights stayed with her throughout the following year and motivated her to find ways to keep up her activism.

“If anything, it inspired me to do more for my community here in Canada,” she said.

Bingham said she and thousands of others across the country are committed to the women’s movement and foresee long-term gain for their shorter-term pain.

“Activism turns into a movement,” she said. “And that, in effect, causes changes systemically.”

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley City prefers Skytrian but will acceot LRT , with conditions

Ciuncil decakred Skytrain “superior” to planned LRT connection during December closed-door meeting

Langley, Nelson, Abbotsford riders takes top spots in horse vaulting at BC Games

This weekend, athletes took to the Cowichan to deliver their best poses on horseback

TWU-as-Team-Canada wins three in Brazil

Spartans are representing Canada in the inaugural FISU America Games

Langley City considering funding fence to keep homeless away from condominium

Report to council cites issues of “defecation, drug consumption, discarded needles, littering”

2018 Aldergrove Fair photo gallery

Good times from pony rides and petting zoo to free MainStage concerts

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Gold medallists at BC Games only trained together for 1 day

Ryan Goudron, Nathan Chan, Owen Pinto and Praise Aniamaka from Zone 4 - Fraser River ran together for the first time

Five taken to hospital after one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Most Read