Melissa Stephens, Vancouver Island University Faculty Association Status of Women chairwoman, left, Deborah Hollins, Nanaimo Family Life Association executive director and Sonnet L’Abbé, last year’s march organizer, are helping Nanaimo Women March On gain traction. The march is Saturday, Jan. 20. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo marches for women’s rights

Nanaimo Women March On happens Saturday, Jan. 20

Nanaimo residents are taking to the streets to kick up awareness of women’s rights and issues.

People are invited to lace up and take part in Nanaimo Women March On this Saturday, Jan. 20.

Last year, city residents fell into step with the Women’s March on Washington after the U.S. presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

Deborah Hollins, involved in organizing this year’s event, said it was in response to an election in which the issues of women were magnified because of comments by Trump and those who surrounded him, and was a concerted effort to put women’s rights front and centre and amplify the voices of women in the political process.

It was an “incredibly powerful movement” and there’s momentum to carry the march on annually, said Hollins, who sees this march as a continuation of the conversation Trump began and one that raises awareness of women’s rights, encourages community building and provides a forum for people to take action and learn about women-based issues.

“We see with the Me Too movement, with the Time’s Up movements, women at the Oscars dressing in black, that the conversation is not going away, women are not going away and this march is just another tool to continue to agitate for change,” she said. “It is a time of reckoning really for the world to answer the call of women, that we deserve justice and dignity, we deserve equality and that we deserve that for all of our sisters.”

Nanaimo organizers support global march events, but are taking a local focus with the goal of giving a voice to vulnerable and minority women.

“This is one day, but it is a long year, so we kind of see this more part of a movement and part of that is about establishing connections and giving voice to people that don’t always get that chance,” said Melissa Stephens, VIU Faculty Association Status of Women chairwoman.

The event is organized by Nanaimo Women’s Action Committee in partnership with VIU Faculty Association Status of Women and VIU Student Union Women’s Collective, the Women’s March website shows. The march starts at Diana Krall Plaza at 10 a.m. and goes to Maffeo Sutton Park, where there will be music, guest speakers and activities. Women and their allies are invited to attend.



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