More than just a protest: the Women’s March on Washington
Publication DateFriday, January 13, 2017 - 1:45pm
Hundreds of thousands of activists and ordinary citizens are expected to participate in the Women’s March on Washington at the National Mall the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.The OPSEU Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) encourages all members to join the march or to attend sister marches in Ontario.
The Women’s March on Washington emerged in response to the unprecedented rise in acts of discrimination and hate that coincided with the 2016 US Presidential campaign. This includes increased incidents of violence and virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements that arose during the Presidential campaign. President-elect Trump not only insulted and demonized racialized and other communities, but dismissed violence against women as “no more than locker-room talk” and attacked organizations providing reproductive health-care and abortion services to women.
At a recent political rally outside the Alberta legislature, Conservative protestors adopted Trump’s offensive rhetoric when they condemned Alberta Premier, Rachel Notley, with abusive chants of “lock her up.” Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander was present at the rally and seemed to visibly condone the protestors. Meanwhile, Conservative MP Kellie Leitch has proposed an “anti-Canadian values test” -- a discriminatory ideological purity test aimed at Muslim and immigrant communities that she borrowed from Trump.
But the Women’s March on Washington is not an anti-Trump march. The March is intended to be a display of unity and solidarity that aims to generate massive mobilization worldwide against the increasing erosion of women’s basic economic and human rights. To this end, the OPSEU Provincial Women’s Committee and the OPSEU Executive Board have unequivocally endorsed the march. To date, more than 250 rallies and sister demonstrations have been organized in more than 60 cities.
The Women’s March evokes the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his momentous “I have a dream” speech. The 1963 march set a precedent in the rapidly evolving civil rights movement that lead to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and Fair Employment Practices Clause that ended Jim Crow laws (such as segregation in schools and housing) and provided protections for workers against discrimination on the basis of "race," creed, national origin and sex. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom not only linked its mandate to a broader set of objectives such as ending poverty and reforming the economy; it inspired a broad-based movement that spawned many other demonstrations for generations to come -- from the four marches on Washington for LGBTTIQQ2S rights to the recent pro-choice demontration, March for Women's Lives.
"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
-- Audre Lorde
As the campaign for the Women’s March on Washington has expanded on an unprecedented scale, the organizers have also been challenged to broaden its mandate in ways that are accountable to the dream Martin Luther King envisioned, and the battles that Black, LGBTTIQQ2S and other activists have long fought. In light of these challenges, the organizers have shifted the objectives of the March from simply linking women’s rights to human rights to specifically highlighting the concerns faced by racialized, undocumented and immigrant women. In doing so, the organizers of the March explicitly honour the spirit and legacy of Audre Lorde: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
The Women’s March also aims to fulfill longer-term goals: to act as a catalyst for transformative social and economic change and to engage in deeper questions about the future of the women’s movement. This means that the Women’s March has had to contend with issues of racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia. The organizers have had to broaden the goals of the March to incorporate not only workplace protections, but advocacy to raise the minimum wage and challenges to immigration law and unfair police practices -- issues especially relevant to the lives and experiences of domestic workers and undocumented immigrants. The Women’s March aims to inspire and sustain a movement, and it strives to do this by working with the communities and women who are the most marginalized and exploited among us.
Please join the Women’s March on Washington or any of the Sister Marches in Ontario:
Women’s March on Washington
For more information, including resources about the March, the March location, finding buses to the Women’s March, Initiatives for parents and children, and accessibility at the March, click here.
Ottawa Women's March
Date: Sat, January 21, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m.
Location: Parliament Hill, Wellington Street, Ottawa
This event is a rally to stand in solidarity with our American sisters who are marching in the tens of thousands on Washington in the Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017. The purpose of this non-violent, inclusive and intersectional protest is to take a stand for and support women’s rights -- the rights of all women -- with women from all races, all religious communities, all political affiliations, cis or transgendered and all sexual orientations. Violence is not welcome and will not be condoned.
This is an inclusive, intersectional march, and everyone around the world, who supports women's rights are welcome. We are committed to intersectional feminism and inclusion.
For more information, click here.
Women's March on Washington - Saint Catharines
Date: January 21, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: St. Catharines City Hall, 50 Church Street, St. Catherines
Women will gather at City Hall to march in solidarity to MP Chris Bittle's office (61 Geneva Street). At Chris Bittle's office, the organizers will provide opportunities for women in attendance to speak about their experiences and the reasons this march is important to them.
For more information, click here.
Toronto Women's March
Date: January 21, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Queen's Park Toronto
On Saturday, January 21, join the Toronto Women’s March to unite communities in Toronto and to speak out. We come together to say we will not be silent in the face of the hate that has threatened and insulted so many of us – Muslims, Jews, racialized people, Indigenous people, migrants and those with precarious or no legal status, members of the LGBTTIQQ2S communities, differently abled people and women.
In the spirit of saying no to hate and yes to justice, equity and social change, people around the world will be mobilizing and resisting as Trump is inaugurated. The lived experiences of colonialism and anti-black racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, sexism and oppression has existed long before Trump, but we worry that the recent US election has provided a new wave that normalizes and makes hate acceptable.
Now is a critical moment to come together to send a united message. We cannot afford to be silent or idle. Let us continue to push for justice for the most marginalized and oppressed among us. All allies are welcome.