Washington DC is still reverberating from the women’s march that took place on January 21. It was an extraordinary event on inauguration weekend and one of the largest demonstrations in decades. The mobilization was part of the building of a mass movement against the policies of Donald Trump and those interests he represents. Rallies and protests at airports, on campuses, and in the streets of cities and towns across the US have been almost daily occurrences.
In Canada and around the world there were marches in solidarity, denouncing the attacks to which every oppressed minority in the United States was being subjected. Millions mobilized saying no to Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, attacks on undocumented peoples and the misogyny which has been a mark of the Trump administration. The executive orders have been fast and furious.
One of the hallmarks of the demonstration that took place on the 21st in Toronto was the emphasis on the situation we are facing here. The horror of the murders at the mosque in Quebec City showed clearly that we are up against those same forces. Bigotry knows no borders and politicians such as Leitch and O’Leary are fanning the flames setting people against each other, emulating the politics of the Republicans south of the border. The National Front in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) are all part of this same phenomenon. We have seen fire bombings and protests at mosques in Ontario. At the same time in downtown Toronto as bigots chanted outside a local mosque, passer bys stopped and showed solidarity with the Muslim community that had come to pray.
International women’s day (IWD) which has long been a highlight of progressive politics in this city has chosen a timely theme this year: STOP THE HATE- UNITE THE FIGHT- BUILD THE RESISTANCE- UNITY IS POWER. This is meant to continue and broaden the fight back against the politics of division and hate that we are seeing worldwide. This is a call for all progressive people to come out and concretely show that the forces that are trying to intimidate the Muslim community, and all others that are being targeted by the politics of reaction, have no support in this city.
In the early 20th century in New York city, immigrant women garment workers walked off the job for decent wages and working conditions, demanding that they be treated with the respect that they deserve. In 1910 a socialist women’s conference in Copenhagen declared International Women’s Day in recognition of their fight. A few years later thousands of women speaking 22 different languages struck against mill owners in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts fighting for union recognition. With strong solidarity from the broader working class they won that fight, which has been commemorated in the women’s movement anthem “Bread and Roses.”
There has been a long history of the women’s movement fighting back against bigotry and misogyny. We are seeing those attacks today and it is critically important that we build the unity that is so critical to a resistance that has the collective power to fight back and win.
Join IWD Toronto, Saturday March 11, 11am at UofT Medical Sciences Building Auditorium, 1 King’s College Circle