One year ago, we witnessed the Women’s March Movement which saw 6 million women worldwide come together in solidarity and protest after the inauguration of Donald Trump. Here in Hamilton, on that day in January 2017, we saw over 1000 women rally at City Hall.
To mark the first anniversary of that movement, YWCA Hamilton, in collaboration with more local organizations, coordinated the Women’s March Forward Summit, a pay-what-you-can event – “something reflective and practical, intended to engage more women and non-binary people in community organizing around intersectional women+’s issues.”
Held this past Saturday, January 20th, the Women’s March Forward Summit was a chance to regroup and check in with one another. Daniela Giulietti of YWCA Hamilton elaborates: “And to figure out where we go next. We have this energy, we have women who want to engage with each other, who want to talk about feminism. Merriam Webster actually declared ‘feminism’ the word of the year in 2017.”
Daniela continued, “If you don’t have a clear direction, things can get messy, or it drops off. This is really an opportunity for us to provide some skill-building, provide an opportunity for women to network with other women who think similarly or want similar things for the world. To have this very timely conversation about why we’re underrepresented in leadership roles, and what we can do to change that, and how we work together to make sure not just that women’s voices are heard, but more marginalized women’s voices are heard.”
It was a powerful sight to see women and non-binary individuals take up space in Hamilton City Hall’s council chambers. It was a day to come together and learn from each other, have some tough conversations, and elevate voices who have been silenced.
After an introduction from representatives of the Young Women’s Advisory Council at YWCA Hamilton, we welcomed keynote speaker Brittany Andrew-Amofah, a policy and research manager at Broadbent Institute and CBC News commentator. Brittany’s powerful and engaging talk was an invigorating start to the day. Speaking from personal career experience, Brittany left us with a key message – “We need to organize to be politicized.” We need to translate our ideas into real political change. Particularly with upcoming provincial and municipal elections, it’s crucial to think about who we want to support, what type of policies we want to support, and how can we appoint more women in leadership roles.
After the keynote, attendees splintered off into workshops, choosing between:
- Community Organizing
- Women, Labour and Social Justice
- AR/AO in Movement-Building
Joining in the first group, we had a lively discussion about the principles of community organizing and how to best apply them. What are the best ways to organize meetings, how do we build upon momentum to enact real social change, and how to be inclusive and accessible to all, were some of our points of discourse.
From there, we regrouped in council chambers for a panel discussion moderated by Erin O’Neil of Broad Conversations. It was again such a powerful sight to see women and non-binary individuals take a seat at the table that is usually occupied by men. Sarah Adjekum, Danielle Boissineau, Laura Cattari, Caitlin Craven, Jerica Fraser, Erica James, and Nrinder Nann are all passionate voices who elicited much applause from us all in the gallery. As a diverse panel, an important talk was had about what it means to be a feminist, intersectionality, and how we can’t talk about dismantling patriarchy without dismantling interlocking systems of oppression such as racism, homophobia, transphobia.
The Women’s March Forward Summit was originally intended as just the summit, but when the demand was there for a rally outside City Hall, we made it happen. Hearing from more powerful voices, we were left with more empowering messages before parting ways.
Quotes are taken from my conversation with Daniela Giulietti, Erin O’Neil and Jessica Chevrier on 93.3 CFMU.