On March 8, in honour of International Women’s Day, hundreds gathered in front of the Roddick gates in support for all women and the fight for equality. The march was organized by Women of Diverse Origins, a grassroots anti-imperialist women’s network based in Montreal.
One of the speakers addressed the crowd, saying: “We stand by the brave women of Iran or Afghanistan protesting oppressive regimes, and fight for their fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and right to receive a proper education […] and we are here [to] request the recognition and protection of the rights of all women.”
“The struggle for equality is worldwide and intersectional,” said another speaker, before adding that “intersectionality is a unifying force.” Intersectionality demonstrates the way in which even inequality is not equal; women suffer in different ways depending on the different characteristics of their identity. This idea expresses how people’s social identities can overlap, creating compounding experiences of discrimination.
During the march, the Daily spoke with Marie Boti, one of the organizers of the march and spokesperson for Women of Diverse Origins. She noted that “this is the 22nd year in a row that we have organized this march.” She then added that one of the main demands was to regularize the “500,000 people in Canada that don’t have regular immigration status.” Women living without regular status are especially at risk; Boti explained that “they are totally vulnerable to any form of exploitation, including sexual abuse or being taken advantage by a landlord or an employer.”
Another important demand of the march was related to the inequality sustained by an unjust economic system. “There is still an economic system that is based on exploitation and making profit more important than women and human beings. This is the system of capitalism and imperialism, where rich countries exploit the resources of poorer countries forcing people to migrate in search of a better life. They end up dying on our doorstep because we are not letting them in,” concluded Boti.
The Daily also spoke with Ambrine Lambert, a student at McGill and head delegate of the IRSAM Youth Advisory Delegation, who participated in the 67th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. The McGill delegation team met with multiple permanent missions to discuss “global health, climate change, and inequality” in relation to women’s rights. Ambrine emphasized the “importance of educating people on women’s rights.” Her main take away from the commission was that “the state of women’s rights and the solutions that can be offered varies significantly depending on geography. And we are seeing a positive evolution, but events in the US and Iran for example are proof that we should be cautious in claiming victory.”
When asked about the future of feminist activism, Boti told the Daily , “We’ve been doing this for over two decades and we are getting tired, we need more young people joining us […] We shouldn’t take things for granted, the struggle for women’s rights won’t end until they are recognized for every woman everywhere.”