A Show of Solidarity
One might expect a women’s march to attract the attention of women, but at the Calgary Women’s March earlier this January many men also participated to show their solidarity and support.
Among these men was Jason Devine, a passionate advocate for feminism who participated alongside his entire family.
“I march because I believe in feminism, I believe in women, I believe in equality. I have a mom, a sister, and a wife. I have friends that are women, and I have all boys, so I want to set a good example for them.”- Jason Devine said.
Devine acknowledged he cannot speak for women, but said, “in our relationships with women, if we want to treat them as equal partners, we have to be feminist by definition.”
Each march participant interviewed by the Calgary Journal had a different interpretation of what feminism meant and a differing motive for marching, but everyone shared the common hope for equality.
“I march because I believe in feminism, I believe in women, I believe in equality. I have a mom, a sister, and a wife. I have friends that are women, and I have all boys, so I want to set a good example for them,” Devine said.
Pussy hats, cat ears, lots of pink and an influx of signs were among the items most popularly showcased by participants of the Calgary Women’s March. Art student Justine Sawicz chose to show her solidarity with a homemade headscarf and apron with unique symbolism.
“The headscarf is supposed to be a labia headscarf and then I’m wearing an apron today that has a uterus screen print on it. For me, it’s subverting the domestic image of a woman and turning it into something radical,” said Sawicz. “It is just normalizing women in society.”
Sawicz is passionate about women’s rights and equality in society. “I’m marching today because it is ridiculous that we should even have to be marching for this.”
A New Hope
Calgary’s Women’s March, which coincided with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. drew thousands of local participants to the city’s core. But, it also included people from afar.
Amongst these marchers was Margaret Collis who travelled from Ottawa to Calgary just so she could march as part of three generations. Collis stood proudly beside her daughter and granddaughter, while pointing out her favourite signs to make sure they didn’t miss them.
When asked about her motivation to attend Saturday’s march, Collis said, “I’ve seen a lot of changes for women in my lifetime, and I don’t want to see that go backwards. We must go forward. I absolutely want better for my granddaughter. All I want is to see things get better for future generations, and not get worse.”
Providing hope for younger generations was a common motivation among participants at the march. Seven-year-old Isabella De Groot marched sign in hand with hope she could have a future with more equality.
“It’s for my future and to get women to get paid the same as men and get treated the same as men in the future. For women to get respect and to get the opportunity to play basketball and to do all of the things that boys can do,” De Groot said.
Swelling Crowd Sizes
Despite many marches planned only weeks in advance, the number of people who took to the streets across North America for women’s rights is staggering. Crowd sizes varied in the thousands and hundreds of marches were held worldwide.
Although the march was aimed at showing solidarity with America, marches around the world had elements that reflected their own distinct culture. In London, protesters dressed as traditional suffragettes and in Antarctica protesters carried signs declaring ‘Penguins March for Peace.’
Meanwhile in Calgary the march began with a smudging ceremony and a Cree welcoming song to reflect that the march occurred on Treaty 7 territory.
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