Among the many excellent signs at Saturday’s Nanaimo Women March On, one of the most important messages read, “I’m with her,” with arrows pointing every which way. (NEWS BULLETIN photo)

Editorial: March toward equal rights for women

All Canadians have our charter rights, but those rights aren’t respected equally

Those who support women’s rights have a way with words. At Saturday’s women’s march in Nanaimo, participants crafted all manner of signs, some funny, some angry, almost all of them spot on. One of the most important messages read, “I’m with her,” with arrows pointing every which way. The sign probably didn’t have much to do with U.S. politics – it was a show of support for all women. If we’re not ‘with’ women, then we’re against them.

The first women’s march was a year ago. It might have been fuelled by disbelief and outrage about the U.S. presidential election outcome, but from the start, it was about more than that. It sparked important conversations about equality, which is too often illusory.

All Canadians have our charter rights, but those rights aren’t respected equally. If we don’t know that, we should. There are too many women, including in our community, who are objectified, disrespected, belittled, assaulted, abused, raped and murdered.

All those things happen every day, somewhere. They happened between last year’s women’s march and this year’s march, but maybe if we look at the bright side of 2017 we can see that there exist segments of society that are standing up for women’s rights more firmly than before. We’re listening more closely to the women who are telling us, ‘Me too,’ and who are telling us why they march. We have to not only listen to them, but believe them. Men who would cause physical and emotional harm and sexual assault must be ostracized, no matter what generation they come from, because ‘Time’s up.’

A march is part of a movement. Change comes when we have leaders at the top and many more at the grassroots who pay attention and care, and together we can squeeze uncomfortably those who don’t see what’s obvious to reasonable human beings.

The next women’s march might be a year away, and in the meantime, there are attitudes and inequalities that we must keep trying to stamp out.

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