On the evening of March 8, around 200 women and allies gathered in Cabot Square to celebrate and stand in solidarity with women for International Women’s Day. The march was organized by Montreal-based feminist organization Women of Diverse Origins.
The March began at 6 p.m. near Atwater station along Ste. Catherine, with the crowd chanting and waving banners from their respective organizations. The march was accompanied by the Service de police de la ville de Montréal (SPVM).
“To bring back the militant tradition of International Women’s Day to Montreal.”
According to a statement by Women of Diverse Origins, the march was against patriarchy, colonialism, racism, Islamophobia, austerity, capitalism, and imperialism. Marie Boti, a spokesperson for the organization, told The Daily in an interview that the march sought “to bring back the militant tradition of International Women’s Day to Montreal.”
Multiple organizations participated in the march, such as the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and the South Asian Women’s Community Centre. “We are women from different cultural communities, from different generations, many immigrant and racialized women,” said Boti.
Some held banners that said “Immigrant workers against austerity and for their dignity.”
Boti continued, “Because many of our members […] have ties with countries in many other parts of the world, we have direct links and are affected by what is going on elsewhere as well.”
Boti emphasized that the march specifically opposed austerity, noting the disproportionate impact of the provincial Liberal government’s austerity measures on women. “The issues that affect us are the issues that […] affect most working people in Montreal, only often we have it worse,” Boti said. Issues such as cuts to social services particularly hinder gender equality, she added.
“The issues that affect us are the issues that […] affect most working people in Montreal, only often we have it worse.”
She said that the Women of Diverse Origins and the march also support Indigenous women who are on the front lines of resistance against “transnational, multinational corporations [that] have no qualms about engaging in aggressive extractivism and mining projects.”
A moment of silence was also held for Berta Cáceres, a Honduran Indigenous woman and environmental activist who resisted dams and mining projects to protect the waterways in Honduras, and was killed on March 3.
Carlos Hernan Cerpa Mallat, a member of Fight Back, told The Daily in an interview that attending the march was especially important for them because women are denied access to political engagement in most societies. “I’m here because I think it is very important to defend women’s rights, especially today, in the political moment we live in,” said Mallat.
“I think we have to recover the very sense of women’s day,” they continued. “For example, in [the U.S.] with the elections, with Hillary [Clinton], the question of feminism and women has been taken to the scene in a very narrow and confused sense.”
“I think it sheds light on the fact that women everywhere face some kind of disadvantage by virtue of being women.”
Firdaous Sbaï, a U2 Arts student, also attended the march and told The Daily, “It’s a good way to have awareness on issues that affect women in a more general way and […] connect these issues, and through that illustrate that women’s oppression is systemic and every individual issue is connected in a bigger way.”
“I think it sheds light on the fact that women everywhere face some kind of disadvantage by virtue of being women,” Sbaï concluded.