Edmonton was one of many Canadian communities participating in the third annual Women’s March on Saturday.
The rally was organized for the advancement of the rights of women and other vulnerable groups.
The movement started in the U.S. following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Marches across the world, including in Canada, were organized in solidarity with those marching in Washington, D.C.
Co-organizer Paula Kirman said that the movement is still important, two years after it started.
“Events like this will help keep the issue in the public eye,” she said.
Kirman said work is still being done on issues brought up during the first women’s march, such as the gender pay gap, gender-based violence and bullying of women in politics.
She said she has seen positive steps being taken in relation to those issues.
“People are talking about those issues more. Whether or not we’ve been able to affect any real change – the fact that we’re bringing those topics to the forefront and keeping the pressure on politicians and government to do things about these issues – that in and of itself means that what we’re doing is important,” Kirman said.
The theme for this year’s rally was putting an end to anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigration sentiments.
“We see the rising of hate groups,” Kirman said. “We’re seeing it right here in Edmonton. We want to say no, we stand against these things.”
Tracy Folorunsho-Barry with Gradual Rising of Women (GROW) spoke at the rally about her experience as an immigrant in Edmonton; she said there are still many immigrant-related issues women can fight for.
“Discrimination, racism and all that set women back. Particularly discrimination of not being able to speak properly, an immigration and a woman, a lot of things are based on discrimination and also racism,” she said.
The crowd at Saturday’s event was noticeably smaller than the first year women’s march, when thousands gathered at the Alberta Legislature; Kirman acknowledged the cold temperatures may play a role in attendance.
Posters are the rally read “Our rights are not up for grabs and neither are we,” “Women’s security lies in the fight for the rights of all” and “Men of quality don’t fear equality.”
Laura Sydora is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta, researching feminist issues and social movements. She said feminist issues are human rights issues.
“Having a space in which people can get together, raise awareness and bring their voices together is a good starting point in reminding us these issues are relevant and important still,” she said.
Attendee Carol Wilson said education for women outside of Canada along with the issue of reproductive rights are important for her.
Wilson said there is a feeling that the fight for women’s rights is over, which she disagrees with.
“I think we have to be really careful and keep the interest in feminism going,” she said.
The movement also works towards protecting reproductive rights and acknowledging issues faced by the LGBTQ community, Indigenous people, workers and people with disabilities.