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We Are Fearless – International Women's Day march in Toronto

International Women's Day  in Toronto. Photo by Judy Vashti Persad
By: 
Carolyn Egan

March 18, 2019

Millions marched around the world to mark International Women’s Day. From Pakistan, to Spain, to Latin America to India, and Africa people took to the streets in support of women’s issues and in many instances against the neo -liberal agenda that has been relentlessly attacking gains that have been made.

In Toronto over 10,000 marched and it was one of the largest and most diverse actions against the Ford government that has taken place. The theme was “We Are Fearless: Building Our Communities, Supporting Each Other, Growing the Resistance.” Grass roots women from many different communities took to the stage outlining the attacks against health care, workers rights, care givers, students, Indigenous, Black, racialized and LGBTQ peoples and those with disabilities. We also heard from women from the Kurdish and Sudanese struggles. The incredible blues singer Nicky Lawrence rocked the hall with the strength of her voice, and two young feminist singers from “Moscow Apartment” moved the crowd, saying that they had been attending International Women’s Day since they were born. The energy was extraordinary and the diversity of those in attendance reflected neighbourhoods throughout the city where so many are struggling for change.

There was a large trade union presence with rank and file members from CUPE, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Steelworkers, Service Employees International Union, Amalgamated Transit Union, the Energy Professionals, Unifor, the teachers and more. Many community groups also organized to come out such as Migrante, the Workers Action Centre, the Migrant Workers Alliance, the Kurdish Community Centre, the Caregivers Action Centre, the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare, St Christopher House, Sistering, Nellies, Women Working with Immigrant Women and so many more.

It was a rally and march that projected an anti-racist, class perspective through the speakers, the contingents, the placards and banners. It harkened back to the roots of international women’s day when immigrant workers walked out of garment factories in New York City fighting for the dignity and respect they deserved as women and as workers. The theme “We Are Fearless” reflected a confidence both from the organizing committee and the participants. They were making it very clear to governments and corporations that things must change because they can no longer stay the same. There was an anger that one could feel and a commitment that they were prepared to fight for the world they wanted.

They were calling on their unions and their organizations to take up the challenge and fight back against the Ford government’s neo-liberal attacks in Ontario as well as the racism, Islamophobia, and bigotry that we see in our streets. The speakers from the front spoke of the hard fought battles that had been carried on in the past against tremendous odds that were won because women and men organized the collective strength that is ours. That was the message that rang through the streets of Toronto and people were exhilarated as the march ended and the sense of solidarity was so strong.

The other message that was very clear is that we must continue the organizing in our workplaces and our communities bringing the spirit and confidence of the march to our everyday struggles. In Toronto the next events are the rally and forums on March 21st on the Day for the Elimination of Racism, and on March 25th the stewards assembly at which over 1000 trade union activists will be coming together to plan the fight back against the provincial government’s attacks.

If you are interested in being a part of the fight back join the International Socialists. Our comrades were active in organizing the IWD rally and march, in organizing for the stewards assembly, and in the ongoing fights against the far right and racism on March 21st and beyond.

 

 

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