Last week’s Women’s March on Washington drew thousands of peaceful protesters from around the world on inauguration weekend to send a strong message to Trump’s new government, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights. Thousands of Canadians marched in this historic event to lend their voices and express solidarity with communities under attack by the rhetoric and policies of the new President and others in authority.
Not only did Windsor send more than a busload of participants—including several students and the Associate Dean from the Faculty of Law—but Windsor Law student Tasha Donnelly was one of the national organizers for the Canadian contingent. In an interview with Chatelaine magazine, she explained why. “Canadians are a part of this because we’re aware that what goes on in the U.S. does have an impact here.”
She believes the March was “a tipping point for intersectional feminism, where our advocacy for women's rights is now centred on ALL women. Where we are recognizing and amplifying women whose voices have been excluded from conversations in the past, like racialized women, women with disabilities and queer women.”
“The idea,” she says, “is that, moving forward, we are all here for each other, to rise together. We will not buy into the patriarchal distraction of being pitted against one another and creating a hierarchy of oppression to justify why we are "better" women or "more deserving". Together we will resist such acts of division and degradation towards women, knowing that for some issues our privilege may require us to be in supporting roles. It’s also the hope that the recognition of women's rights will come to address equality issues that can dismantle toxic masculinity and also benefit non-binary folks and men.”
Professor and Associate Dean Jasminka Kalajdzic travelled to Washington, D.C. on the “Windsor bus.” She says that for those who had never been involved in any movement before, the March “marked the beginning of social and political activism.” She believes it was an opportunity for people in various progressive movements to “coalesce for a singular purpose: the affirmation of a commitment to equality and justice for all.”
Windsor Law students Rubaina Singh and Anchal Bhatia travelled on the Windsor bus, coordinated by St. Clair Professor Pat Papadeas. Rubaina says she marched because she feels disappointed when she hears that a woman is “far too emotional to be a president. I feel terrified when a Sikh man is attacked because he “looks like” a muslim, and when all muslims are associated with “terror”. I feel worried when I am told that if I have a visa of any muslim country on my passport I will be denied a visa, or even entry, into the U.S. I feel targeted every time I am selected “randomly” for a security screening process at the airport. I feel disgusted when a reputed academic refuses to use the pronoun “they” for an individual who chooses to be called so, and openly expresses disbelief in their identity. I feel frustrated when all women wearing a hijab are considered “oppressed”. I feel angry when I am told that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, when she is considered little more than a child-bearing machine who can never be as smart, capable and qualified and be paid equal to men.”
Rubaina believes that the U.S. election and recent inauguration of Mr. Trump has made matters worse, though she is hopeful that by coming together to support one another those in positions of power who use misogynist rhetoric will be challenged. “The march made me realize that there are millions of people who stand against the same notions of oppression and misogyny and who are questioning the mistreatment of basic human values.”
Anchal Bhatia was surprised by the sheer numbers and energy felt during the March. She described it as “an undeniable reminder that other people support you and agree with you. On any given day 100 people might call me naïve, but in that moment I was reminded that while those people might not always be with me, there exists an equal number of believers and supporters who are.” She hopes the movement of believing, of togetherness and of intersectionality stays strong. “I hope that we continue to have discussions of issues and that those discussions turn into actions, marches, protests— anything. If 2017 does become the ‘Year of Listening’, like the organizers intend, then intersectionality has a real chance.”
A number of media outlets covered the Windsor contingent and shared some of the stories of those who marched from our region.