CapU community members partake in historic demonstration held around the world
In a demonstration staged around the world, from America to Antarctica, Capilano University students sent their message to Trump, and those who want to curtail women’s rights, in Vancouver on Jan. 21.
The international demonstration, known as the Women’s March on Washington, drew millions of participants in cities as far and wide as Buenos Aires, London, Nairobi and Sydney. Indeed, the march in Washington, DC alone was so popular, a New York Times article suggested that its attendance of 500,000, was nearly three times that of President Trump’s inauguration, which was held a day earlier on Jan. 20.
According to The Atlantic, the demonstration, altogether, attracted measurable support from roughly four million of people around the world, with many more taking to social media to stand in solidarity with demonstrators.
Participants were diverse, with people from all backgrounds and genders taking part in support of self-identified women. Their message, however, not so varied, with each voice using public demonstration and social media to tell the Trump administration, as well as those seeking to restrict women’s rights, they would not be silenced by sexist rhetoric and policies.
Recent CapU grad and SFU transferee Caitlin Manz was inspired by how diverse the march was, as well as its ability to shine a light on both women’s and minority rights.
“It actually had an incredible turnout. They figure it was about 10,000 people. There were a lot of men, people representing the environmental movement, Black Lives Matter – so it became more than just a women’s march, and more of a minority rights march and a demonstration on all sorts of progressive issues,” said Manz. “The whole movement itself was empowering. Look at all the numbers that came out worldwide in all corners of the planet. There was people in London lined to the London Bridge and signs put up in Antarctica. Greenpeace recently hung a sign over the White House.”
For Manz, Trump’s intention to curtail the rights of disadvantaged populations, including women and visible minorities, as well as put fossil fuel interests above addressing climate change, is why this demonstration was so timely, and the response to it that more historic.
“It all has to do with Trump’s inauguration. That’s a huge part of the significance of it. The US is a big player, a superpower. Right now, Trump constitutes a threat to the rights of women, the rights of immigrants, the environment, for minorities, the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s nominated a lot of climate change deniers who are going to be in White House and that’s not a good thing, so it happened at a very crucial time.” said Manz. “He’s said he wants to reverse the overtures of Roe v. Wade and nominate ‘pro-life’ judges to the Supreme Court. That’s really why it was so significant.”
Second-year Arts and Entertainment Management student Brianna Bowerman chose to march out of disdain for the election, its consequences and those who enable Trump through passivity.
“I marched in the Women’s March on Washington Vancouver because I am an angry woman. I have been drowning in emotions of grief, indignation, confusion and cynicism since Trump won the election,” said Bowerman.
“I am passionate about equality, liberation and safety for all and I believe it’s time to stand up to bigots who pontificate hate, and the moderates who stand by, passive and complicit with silence. If I learned anything from participating in the demonstration, it’s that we cannot end here. This needs to be the beginning of a series of movements that call for freedom, equity, inclusion and a change in cultural attitudes.”
Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Women’s liaison Emily Solomon attended the march with her daughter, so she could show her the value of community organization and peaceful demonstration.
“I think the march, for me as well as lot of [parents], was about passing the torch to the younger generation. I involve my daughter in all of the marches and causes I participate in because I want her to see what activism means in a peaceful way, and what it looks like when all those voices come together,” said Solomon.
“By the time it finally got going – things were kind of moving slowly, so there was a lot of reiterating that part of activism and lobbying is being patient and that this is what it meant to be in a march and something that is bigger than ourselves. I know that 10, 20 years down the road, she’s going to look back and say ‘I was there.’”
In the days following worldwide WMW demonstrations, Trump has wasted no time attacking the rights of women, signing an executive order that prevents countries the US aids from using State Department funds to carry out abortions. According BBC News, women’s groups believe this order will disparately impact poor women in developing nations, where funds and facilities are already limited.
Any efforts to mobilize against the policies above must be inclusive of all women, suggests Bowerman, and not just the dominant population in the feminist movement, which many argue contributed to Clinton’s loss last November.
“When we talk about women’s rights or organize for future events, it has to be inclusive and celebrate intersectional feminism, and not just the lucrative, cis-white feminism that materialized from culture,” said Bowerman.
Though Trump and his administration are silent about future plans to curtail women’s rights, resistance of his agenda couldn’t be louder – from CapU, to Washington.
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