by Keerthy Narayanan Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)
International Womens Day (IWD), March 8, is an international day to celebrate the economic, social, and political achievements of women around the globe, while demanding that there is still much to be done to achieve women’s liberation and end the oppressions, discriminations and violence that particularly target women. This year, on the weekend of March 8th, IWD was celebrated in Toronto and the theme chosen for the event “Good Jobs and Dignity for All” – a call out to the government to ensure that this becomes a reality here in Canada. This message comes during a crucial time of economic recession, where the most vulnerable in the population happens to be women. According to the Canadian Auto Workers, 70 percent of part-time jobs and two-thirds of the Canadian population earning minimum wage are women. In other words, women are suffering disproportionately due to the economic recession and this harsh reality is even more evident for women of color, migrant women and Native women.
On March 7th, the day of the IWD march, participants gathered at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education to hear powerful speeches delivered by women from various backgrounds addressing issues and voicing their solidarity with other struggles. The rally was followed by a march that attracted over 1500 participants chanting and relaying their message to the public, who stood still to watch the demonstrators make their way through the downtown core to the IWD fair, where various groups had booths to educate people on various women’s issues.
The next day, the Migrant Women’s Organizing Body got together to facilitate workshops and discussions under the theme “Fighting the War on Us”. Women of color are on the forefronts of fighting for decent livelihoods, justice, and the right to self-determination. It is critical for women to converge during times like this when imperialist forces and systemic racist-sexist policies are pressing down on women and exploiting them for their labour and bodies.
The Migrant Women’s Organizing Body is a growing body of different organizations that intends to expand as a network of women standing side-by-side in solidarity to fight against women’s oppression, and is planning to continue organizing IWD and other related events in Toronto.