Happy International Women's Day!

Wed, 08 Mar 2017

Parvin Doroudian

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. Despite progress made by feminists, inequality continues to persist. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, and in order to continue enacting change, demonstrations like the Women’s March will need to continue. The following is a post about the Women’s March, and an example of how you, too, can Be Bold.

It was larger than expected and remained peaceful around the world. The Women’s March on January 21, 2017, was a hallmark of unity among women everywhere. At least 168 marches were planned around the world, including 29 in Canada [1].

During the United States presidential debates, Mr. Trump’s proposals on human rights and immigration policies drew heavy criticism, and his public statements on social justice shocked people around the globe. Many expressed concern and worry about the future of human rights in Donald Trump’s America. Importantly, it was the women he sought to marginalize that were the ones who initially stood up to protest against the new President of the United States.

Reports show that 500,000 people participated in the Washington Women’s March and that there were around 4.8 million more worldwide [2]. Participants asserted that it was amazing to see how such a large and global event was well-organized and coordinated in such a short time. Some have called it the largest single-day demonstration in Unites States’ history. Nazanin, one of the protestors in Washington said: “This protest was an opportunity to remind the newly elected president, that our dignity as women, as immigrants, as African-Americans, as Latinos, as people with disabilities cannot be undermined.”

This event was led by women of different races and nations, but its roots were in the United States. Many Canadians joined their fellow American protesters at home and abroad. They marched in solidarity in cities throughout Canada, but many traveled to the U.S. to take part. These Canadians in Washington, D.C., known as “sisters of the North”, demonstrated that Canada would never tolerate violation of human rights inside or outside of their borders. Canadians who joined the demonstrations in D.C. were welcomed and greeted with cheers and gratitude by Americans supporting the march. Some Americans simply yelled “Thank you Canada” and some even said, “take us with you”!

In Vancouver, more than 15,000 people marched peacefully through downtown [3]. This number was twice as many as expected by local authorities. The march included people of all genders and numerous ages, races, and religions, and many of the protesters were attending their first ever public demonstration. The refrain “not my president, still my problem” in Vancouver’s march indicated that Canadians are not reluctant to oppose recent political trends in the Unites States; this is the same opposition that Canadians would have for any violation in any part of the world.

Canada is considered a societal model of stability in the world today. The history of Canada’s diplomacy and international activities has increased expectations for its role in a peaceful world. The controversial decisions made by President Trump in the first few weeks after the presidential inauguration amplified Canada’s responsibility to support freedom and justice. Canadian participation in the Women’s March was just a small drop of a great potential for global influence. The main message delivered by these protests is that when it comes to justice, Canada has always been supportive.

Going forward, we must remember that complacency begets inaction. Canada must remain outraged in order to remain engaged. The women’s march was a powerful display of solidarity around the world, but in order to uphold our reputation as a country that stands up for social justice, Canadians of all genders need to continue to resist.


[1] Financial Times