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Humans of la Manifestation

by Alex Hutchins January 23, 2018
Humans of la Manifestation

An exploration of why people protest against gender inequality

On Saturday, Jan. 21, I attended the annual Women’s March in Montreal at Place des Arts, where many speakers gave a voice to issues of gender inequality through an array of critical lenses. I asked several people why they thought these protests are important and how it felt to be part of a public gathering with so many people fighting for different forms of equality. This is what they had to say.

“I think it’s important because we need to raise public awareness on issues that have the tendency to be silenced. I think it’s the perfect moment, now, to be a woman, because I recognize the shift, and I’m just so happy to be a part of it,” she said, smiling at her mother. I asked Gurnagul what she personally drew from being at the protest. She replied: “Just complete empowerment. Just pure ecstasy. Like, I’m so ready to march. We’re all here with similar values, and it feels great. It feels like I’m part of a movement.”

Erin Strumpf was sporting a hot pink feather boa, a shiny gold cape, a fairy wand and a “pussyhat.”

“[The march is] a reminder that those of us who are fighting to make change and a better world are still here, and we’re not going anywhere. I think it’s an important opportunity, as a community, to come together and feel the power of being together and to be sort of reinvigorated and re-energized,” she said. “It’s empowering at an individual level, and I think you feel that exchange with other people, and it sort of builds into something bigger than just yourself.”

Dalia Robidoux proudly displays her hand-made sign while protesting in favour of feminism and gender equality.

“I feel like it’s really empowering for you and for other people because […] when you see your neighbours coming out and protesting, it makes you see the whole movement and you see the community, because this is a community,” she said. Robidoux told me what she personally took away from the protest. “I feel so much more powerful,” she said with a smile. “[Coming] to this protest, I don’t know, I feel like I can do anything, like I can say anything and I’ll be listened to.”

Fatou Ndiaye was supporting Democrats Abroad Montreal, an organization that allows American citizens living abroad to mobilize and participate in electoral processes, according to their website.

“This is important because it is a symbol of the fight and the continuation of the resistance, and being able to say that this is more than just a one-time thing. We’re not swayed by what […] seems to be most important in the general stream of popular culture. It’s about a genuine passion for equality. It’s honestly beautiful,” she said.

I asked Ndiaye how she felt people could be more politically active beyond gathering in physical spaces. She answered, “I think this comes in two-folds; the first being on just the individual level, to reach out to your [community] to try to get more people mobilized on a regular basis.” She said the second fold is about organizations continuously engaging with more communities, even if only briefly. “I think it’s just about making that awareness known and being more proactive in diffusing that awareness.”

A previous version of this article used the headline “Women of la Manifestation.” The headline has been changed to more accurately represent the diversity of people who attended the event. The Concordian regrets the error.

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