By Barb Byers and Marie Clarke Walker
On Saturday, January 21, 2017, people of all genders, ages, races, abilities, backgrounds, and orientations will take part in the Women’s March on Washington and solidarity marches in more than 380 cities around the world. Barb will be marching in Vancouver, Marie will be in Toronto, and we wanted to tell you more about why we’re marching.
We march because we are inspired by the truly grassroots beginnings of this day of action, and the principles outlined by the organizers. Like them, we believe in building a world where violence against women, racial profiling, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of violence and discrimination, have no place in our homes, workplaces or communities.
Canada’s unions know that gender, racial, and economic justice are inextricably linked. We march because, as the vision statement says, “We must create a society in which women—in particular Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and queer and trans women—are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”
We know women are disproportionately represented in low-wage, precarious work, so we march for decent work – including $15 and fairness, and equal pay for work of equal value.
To address the (still) unequal burden of women’s unpaid work, we need strong public services. So we march for universal child care that gives all children a fair start and helps parents balance work and family; health care that doesn’t discriminate – including sexual and reproductive health care; services and supports for those living with illness or disability; affordable housing and accessible public transportation.
We march for truth, reconciliation, and justice for Indigenous people and to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
We march for a fairer future for our children, where they will have clean air and water, good jobs, and the freedom to be themselves.
We march to defend rights we already have, and to gain rights we have not won. We do not yet live in a world where all people, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, sexuality, disability, race or ethnicity, religion, migrant status, Indigenous status, family status or other social identity, enjoy equal opportunities and rights and the ability to participate in the economy, culture, and political decision-making.
Until we do, we must strive to break down systemic barriers to promote inclusion and to ensure that the voices of those who are marginalized are amplified and heard.
We hope many of you will march too in your own communities on Saturday to support the message that women’s rights are human rights. Find a march near you at https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters and use the hashtag #WhyWeMarch to let others know why you march.