The diverse group of people came out to advocate for a range of issues including women’s rights, migration reform, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion and more.
I was incredibly honoured to be one of the speakers at the 2018 Calgary Women’s March performing an original slam poem. I have to admit that the days leading up the March were filled with nervousness. I had attended the March the previous year, incredibly inspired to see so many come together in an effort to bring about change. Yet, I knew again there would be thousands of attendees out there listening. I had participated in debate and public speaking competitions numerous times before, but by no doubt had ever addressed a crowd this large. What if I made a mistake? What if they didn’t like my poetry? On the morning of the event, as I stood in the brisk cold for my sound check, unsure of how far from the mic I should be or how loud I should speak, I still wasn’t too sure what I was doing.
Over the next the couple hours as I met fellow speakers, volunteers and marchers, I was overwhelmed with support. It was evident that the vast majority of people where there to stand in solidarity with their neighbours and inspire action. Special shout out to my fellow two youth speakers – Jane (age 14) an LGBTQ activist, and Leanne (age 11) an Indigenous poet whom I got to know for their true sincerity and braveness.
When the time came to preform, the reason some of my anxiety evaporated and I was able to enjoy myself was because I felt the audience was engaged. As a speaker, the sense that my message of looking past our external differences was getting across, encouraged me to want to continue. Which leads into my belief that Women’s Marches all over the world have been effective in promoting human rights and bringing us together in common humanity.
Women’s Marches have been instrumental in uniting millions across oceans and national boundaries. Initiatives such as these will be and will continue to be powerful and progressive forces in promoting the equity, respect, and understanding that our world so direly needs right now.
Those who were impacted by these marches were not only the people who came out, but also those who wanted to make a difference, and watched from home. In a time where our world seems to be falling apart, and where many individuals have felt alone, these marches offer hope, and inspire them to take action. They foster a sense of togetherness and inclusiveness. When you are connected to others that are passionate about the same types of issues, you can move mountains.
Additionally, these marches have generated awareness among legislators, policy-makers, and leaders about the issues that affect ordinary people. Sure, we can all try and do our individual part by writing letters or having meetings to express our views, but there is no substitute for strong, peaceful public expressions.
Speaking of peaceful public protests, among the millions of people who came out for the first and second Women’s March, there was not one incident of violence recorded. Watching millions of people in every corner of the world peacefully stand together on issues and policies, sends a strong and clear message to our leaders.
Most importantly, Women’s Marches have been a means of raising public awareness and stirring others to think and reflect on how these concerns affect us all. Pictures and stories have been all over the media. It has sure been hard to miss them. No matter what your views, people all over the world heard about and talked about these events.
All of these are absolutely essential for the progress of any democratic society. Without such initiatives, as Martin Luther King warned, we fall into a world where “few care, and fewer still act.” And that is a world I believe none of us would want to live in.
Personally, all I can say is that as a speaker, a 14 year old Muslim female of a minority, the inspiration this event provided was like none other. Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to all those that organized, volunteered, and came to out to these Marches. Thank you for empowering voices and motivating change!