On Saturday, January 21, hundreds of thousands of people are expected take to the streets of Washington DC to make their voices heard on Donald Trump’s first full day in office.
The Women’s March on Washington, open to all genders, aims to stand up to the kind of misogynistic rhetoric seen during the US election and send a message that women’s rights are human rights.
But it’s not just Americans who will be marching. Campaigners have laid on buses to transport Canadians to the march, and sister marches will be taking place across Canada.
Penelope Chester Starr, one of the organizers of Canadian Women’s March, told Daily Hive it’s important for all women – no matter what nationality – to stand up for what’s right.
“It’s important… to stand up and say that we will not tolerate the kind of rhetoric and discourse that we are seeing increasingly normalized,” said Starr.
“The Trump campaign – and his victory – affect not just women in the US but everywhere in the world. We feel we must take a stand against this.”
Starr, a communications and project manager, will be marching in Washington, but says she expects tens of thousands of women will take part in sister marches across Canada.
“We hope to convey a strong, positive message about diversity, equality and inclusivity,” said Starr. “We hope to remind our governments – at all levels – that we will not quietly sit back while rights are eroded.”
“Women represent half the population: every social issue affects us, disproportionately. We are marching for the rights of all women, no matter their race, creed, gender, or ability.”
The Vancouver sister march is being organized by Lisa Langevin, an electrician and passionate advocate for women working in the skilled trades.
Langevin told Daily Hive she is marching locally because misogyny and discrimination are not limited by borders.
“The attitudes that we saw perpetuated by the US elections are something that we see glimmers of every day at home,” said Langevin. “It’s important that women and their allies stand up together around the world to say we stand for love, we stand for support, we stand for equality, we stand for inclusion.”
Langevin says she is expecting up to 2,000 people to join the march from Jack Poole Plaza on January 21, including her group of BC tradeswomen.
Women in trades have suffered decades of discrimination and out-dated stereotypes, she said, which has prevented many women from pursuing it as a career option.
“We march because we don’t want to be relegated ‘back to the kitchen.’ We march because we want equal rights and equal opportunities. We march because it’s time to end discrimination.”
Langevin said the tradeswomen are also marching in support of other minority groups like immigrants, Muslims and people in the LGBT community.
She says she hopes by marching they will assure people suffering discrimination everywhere that they are not alone, and encourage people to take action.
“I hope we activate hundreds of people to be more than a bystander. I hope we join a much larger movement of people around the world of equal values.”
“The statement ‘if not me, then who?” is not just rhetoric,” said Langevin. “It is crucially important to ensure that we leave a legacy for the next generation that we can be proud of.”
American Canadian author Kim Werker, who lives in Vancouver with her husband and son, will be among those women marching here on January 21.
“I feel like I need to do something,” Werker told Daily Hive. “I feel like the march here in Vancouver gives me a way to show up and add my voice to the fight.”
Werker, who took the Canadian citizenship oath in July, says she’s marching not only for her fellow Americans, but also to send a message to the Canadian government.
“I’m under no illusion that we in Canada are immune to the forces pulling governments in what I consider to be a terrifyingly wrong direction,” she said.
“My American government is poised on the precipice of profoundly disappointing me, and I need my Canadian government to know it would not be okay to follow the US’s lead.”
With almost her whole family still living in the US, Werker has spent the weeks since the election feeling torn over the result and its implications.
“I feel profoundly disappointed, confused, and a bit guilty,” said Werker. “I worry about [my family], while at the same time, I feel relieved that I live here in Canada with my husband and son.”
To anyone thinking of joining Werker at the march, she acknowledges it can be intimidating to show up at a demonstration, especially if you’ve never participated in a march before.
But she says it’s important to make it absolutely obvious to the government and in the community that basic human rights are not negotiable.
“We’re not demonstrating for fringe issues – we’re demonstrating in support of the persistence and expansion of basic rights.”
To take part in the Women’s March on Washington in DC, the deadline to sign up for a spot on a bus is 6 pm on Sunday, January 15. Details of the Women’s March in Vancouver are below.
Where: Meet at Jack Poole Plaza – 1085 Canada Place, Vancouver
When: January 21, from at 10 am to noon
Register: On Facebook, all genders welcome, totally free