You came. You marched. Now what?

By Andrea Crosley, March on Ottawa

It was chilly on Parliament Hill this January 20th, 2018, but despite the weather, 8000 or so hardy Ottawans showed up to cheer, to chant, to wave signs, and to march to champion women’s rights. Our human rights. To champion them here in Ottawa, in Canada, and around the World. We marched for a myriad of reasons, each marcher’s motivation personal and individual, but we stood together, united in our common cause. We showed up. We raised our voices. We represented. But how do we continue? How do we further the cause when the marching is done?

Here are a few ways to march on:

Women's march in Ottawa, 2017. Photo by CARE

Listen.

Never underestimate the power of listening. Listen to those leading the women’s movement, be inspired. Listen to organizations that advocate for women’s rights. Listen to those who oppose your position, perhaps understand their perspective, and find ways to build bridges, not burn them. Listen to women who are not like you; broaden your perspective, ponder your biases. Listen to children; to yours, to students, to the youth, because they are the ones who come into the world we are building with fresh eyes, optimism and open hearts. Listen to yourself, are you adhering to your values about women when you speak? Listen to the media, social and traditional. Listen to what goes on in your community, in your workplace. Listen and reflect, and then use what you hear to fuel your fire. Listening is a powerful tool in the fight for rights.

Talk.

Talk to your friends. Talk to your partners. Talk to your children. Talk to your colleagues. Talk about women’s rights. Express how you’d like the world to be for women, how we can change it, and what that looks like. Voice your concerns. Continue the dialogue that amazing movements like The Women’s March, #metoo and CARE’s #shetoo campaign have begun. Step into the space that these others have created and further the cause. Do it at the dinner table, on your social media, in the cafeteria, wherever and whenever appropriate. Speak out when you feel your rights as a woman are being infringed upon, or, if you are a man, when you see those rights being infringed upon. Actively advocate with your words. Speak up. If you can’t speak up, if it is not safe, if you are afraid, find an ally to support you. Find a way. Your voice needs to be heard.

Participants in CARE’s ‘Walk In Her Shoes’ event in Ottawa, March 6th, 2018. Photo: Andrea Crosley

 

Participate.

Get involved. You marched (or perhaps you didn’t, that’s okay, march next time!), keep marching. But it needn’t end there. Where can you make a difference in the fight for women’s rights? Is there an organization you admire that needs help? Is there a situation at work, or perhaps even the culture at work, that can be improved? Is there a friend or family member who needs your support? Is there a girl’s team that needs coaching and mentoring? Fight on by finding the way that you can, as the saying goes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Large or small, everything you do in line with improving the rights of women furthers the cause.

Vote.

Vote municipally. Vote provincially. Vote federally. Vote, vote, VOTE. If you are eligible to vote, just do it. Educate yourself on the issues with respect to women’s rights. Where do the candidates stand?  What is the party platform? Read the articles, the blogs, the campaign literature and websites. Listen to the media. Learn as much as you can, and then cast your ballot with purpose. And if you can’t vote? Dedicate your time to educating others, and encouraging those around you to vote.

Stay Optimistic.

Lastly: Never lose hope. Know that everything you do as an individual makes a difference in the struggle for women’s rights. It is an immense task that lies ahead of us, so take strength from the knowledge that however you take a stand, no matter what that looks like, you are not alone; over 3.7 billion women stand beside you.