Jan. 21 event part of international movement for women’s rights

On Saturday, Jan. 21, women in Ottawa will join in solidarity with women in Washington, D.C., and around the world, for a nation-wide march.

Catherine Butler, one of the organizers of the march and a nurse, told the Fulcrum, “What I like about this new movement (is that) it’s about women as women, but it’s about women collectively.”

The movement has received international awareness, with similar marches set to take place in cities such as London, England on the same day.

In Canada, 14 marches will be taking place across the country, stretching from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C., and other major cities in between.

The Ottawa event will begin with a one-hour rally at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street, followed by a march to the Library and Archives building on Wellington Street. The day will also feature speeches and live performances of singing, drumming, and poetry at the Library and Archives building.

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Speakers include Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association, Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union, and Amanda Jetté Knox and Zoe Knox, human rights advocates and public speakers.

The event will also feature performances by a number of Canadian musicians and artists, including Ottawa-based Jamie Anderson.

“I would emphasize that it’s not about the snazz and having a really entertaining event,” said Butler. “It’s about the opportunity to have something meaningful that is led and spearheaded by women … that gives us the ability to pull a lot of people so we can start having a collective conversation about where do we go next.”

Although the marches come a day after president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Butler emphasized that “this is not a Trump protest—this is so much bigger than one man, one administration, one country.”

“The day of the election was a tipping point for a lot of women,” said Butler, highlighting that “there was an appetite out there for activism at a grassroots level that probably we haven’t seen since the ‘60s.”

According to the Ottawa Metro, feminist groups in Washington have stood up against Trump’s derogatory comments against women in the past, and now expect up to 200,000 protesters to show up at the U.S. capitol on Jan 21.

However, these protests speak to broader issues such as the slew of new anti-abortion laws passed in 2016 and the proposed defunding of health-care providers such as Planned Parenthood. There’s also  the possibility of Trump appointing anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court who could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although the event is labelled as a women’s march, Butler ensures that people from all walks of life are welcome in the movement.

“This is a completely inclusive event—if you are a human being that supports the notion that women’s rights are humans rights, than we need you at this march.”

According to the Facebook event page, it is open to women, girls, transgender and genderfluid persons, men and boys, families, visible minorities and immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, persons with disabilities, climate change defenders, and all others who wish to give their support.

“It is important that we stand together now more than ever,” said Butler. “Because of the election’s impacts, and the risks going forward not just in America, but the threat of this alternative and hard-right social conservative movement that is moving through North America and Europe threatens women, minorities, and any marginalized population in a way we have not seen since the Second World War.”

“If we don’t stand up now, and if we don’t send a global collective message to the leaders of these conservative movements, we will pay the price. We can’t afford to be polite and silent and ask for permission … we need to own our power and we need to do it now.”

For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.