Solidarity on women issues

Community News & Features Mar 9, 2018 at 4:27 pm

IWD_01International Women’s Day in Toronto

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

TORONTO–“Abante, babae, palaban militante!”

Pinays chanted with other migrants, Blacks, Muslims, transgender, indigenous people and other groups to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 3.
“Women and children are most affected by displacement, loss of livelihood and health problems,” said Mithi Esguerra, chairperson of Ontario chapter of the militant Filipina women’s group Gabriela. “That’s why we are marching.”

Esguerra is one of the thousands of people who took to the streets en masse to reaffirm their commitment for gender parity and liberation.

Officially observed on March 8th, this year’s march is ahead of the 40th anniversary of IWD in Toronto. It was a particularly meaningful event to women and allies beginning with a rally at OISE on Bloor Street. Speakers highlighted the struggles of women at home and abroad.

Maria Magdalena Arce shared the status of women affected by Canadian mining injustices in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

IWD_04Inaj Abalajon, chairperson of Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Toronto, said it was an urgent chance to show solidarity to the Filipino folks who are in the frontlines for social and economic justice.

“When we talk about women in the margins, the most oppressed and exploited, and those are in Philippine society, peasant women and women workers. Even though these are the women experiencing the worst forms of exploitation. It’s also in these sectors where the organizing is strong because it’s in their collective action women advance their socioolitical rights,” added Mithi Esguerra in a Radyo Migrante interview.

Young women also took up space at the Bloor-Bedford parkette and showed off their dance movement skills to the rhythm of Bangon na sa Rebolusyon, the theme song of One Billion Rising Philippines campaign to end rape and sexual violence.

There were wide-ranging messages with other people voicing out their concerns on racism, harassment, discrimination, affordable housing and universal healthcare, and equal pay.
According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won’t close until 2186. On IWD, women across the world come together to force the world to recognise these inequalities – while also celebrating the achievements of women who have overcome these barriers.

According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, it could still take another 100 years before the global equality gap between men and women disappears entirely.
“What we want is to be part of society. We are fighting for liberation, liberation of women, liberation from gender violence that we’ve been hearing about everywhere,” said Judy Vashti-Persad, a member of IWD organizing committee.

IWD_05Justice for Tina Fontaine

Following the rally, marchers headed to Nathan Phillips Square to join the protest action calling for justice for Tina Fontaine, the fifteen year old indigenous girl who was found dead in Winnipeg in 2014. Her death was treated by police as homicide so the suspect was found not guilty last month.

Anna Liu, one of organizers of IWD 2018, said, “The whole issue around missing and murdered indigenous women is central to one of the key purposes of international women’s day: the fight for equality, stopping violence against women and basically the #MeToo movement that’s really exploded in the past year and a half.”

In 2017, women’s rights dominated the news, with a global reckoning on sexual misconduct rippling through industries. Following the outpouring of allegations against prominent men in power, the #MeToo movement gave a voice to women on the abuse and harassment they suffer in different fields.

With gender parity and liberation still a long way from being achieved, many are hoping the path to honor half of the world’s population will continue to spring forward.