What are Waterloo Region Women Marching For?

Saturday, January 20th marked the anniversary of the first Women’s March. The march back in 2017 was organized in Washington D.C. as a response to the election of Donald J. Trump into the office of the President of the United States and was supported all over the world. In 2017, according to the Women’s March organization, there were over 600 million people protesting in over 600 cities across every continent. This past weekend, there were anniversary protests across the globe, in over 100 cities – including our own Kitchener who had, according to Laurier’s newspaper The Cord, approximately 500 participants joining the event.

So, what are the women in the Waterloo Region marching for in 2018? 

In light of the numerous sexual assault allegations coming to light within the past year or so, there was a strong move to give voice to those facing violence, and speak out against sexual assault and sexual violence. Local organizations in place to aid and prevent victims of sexual assault set up booths and promoted their work to help women living within the region. Some folks (and animals) donned signs that spoke against this particular issue. 

A few women were coming to march for “newcomer women” in particular. Advocating for the protection of immigrant women and to “speak for the voices who have not been heard”. 

As is common in the protest throughout women’s history, there was advocacy for reproductive justice. There were booths set up in the square providing resources to help educate folks on their reproductive and sexual health.

A major theme throughout was giving voice to those that have been severely harmed by our countries existence and the interference of our government. At the very beginning of the march, organizers recognized the importance of remembering that the march was taking place on stolen land. The community of Kitchener-Waterloo recognizes that we are on the traditional land of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee Peoples and the march took place on the Haldimand Tract, land that belonged to the Six Nations Peoples. Further into the march, there were a number of Aboriginal and Indigenous people who spoke and brought signs and music to the protest. Before proceeding on the actual march down King Street, there was drum circle that took place. 

Of course, the march was filled with folks bringing joy, colour, and comedy to the event. The signs were incredibly positive and creative! Folks were there to show support for their daughters, sisters and friends. For their mothers and grandmothers who marched before them, and so that folks wouldn’t have to march after them. A number of men were also there with their partners, friends, daughters, sisters, wives, etc., to stand up for each other as allies and as those facing oppression themselves. 

The event wasn’t just about protesting injustice, it was about celebrating diversity, womanhood and the Kitchener-Waterloo community. Folks present were encouraged to take the energy of the day and put it into the activism in their daily lives, and support the women and marginalized folks running and working in government and office, and to even run themselves! 

The day was filled with positivity, hope, and celebration, setting a wonderful tone for the coming year.