In January 2017, we saw global women’s marches that drew thousands onto the streets of Sydney and then around the world…. These marches were held on the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump but they became so much more. It turned into a day for women from all walks of life, that felt marginalised, disaffected, forgotten, lost or angry to take to the streets with a homemade sign and tell someone, anyone, why they were there.
Women marched for abortion rights, domestic violence support, indigenous rights, equality and the MUA contingent? We marched for all those things and peace! The MUA had a good turnout in Sydney, with several of our male members joining in.
I don’t know how we got to this place, where attitudes have gone so far backwards and so far to the right at the same time. It’s like a nor-westerly is blowing us back to the past faster than we can hold firm against it.
Donald Trump? Well I don’t even know where to start with him. His blatant sexism and disrespect for women has been shown repeatedly. The stories are disgraceful, nauseating even. To think that someone (lots of someone’s) wanted him to be president of the USA is just bewildering. Did they think… Oh this will be funny let’s give him a go. Not that the alternative was great. Mind you a female president would have been awesome, but a Clinton? Hmm.
So, who came to the march? It wasn’t just unions, the community groups and parties that always turn up to everything. There were people I’d never met before, never seen at a rally. Old women in wheelchairs, Mums, young girls, Aboriginal, Muslim, Christians, everyone was there. They were there because they needed to do something and if taking to the streets of Sydney would draw attention they came in the thousands. Same was seen around the rest of the country.
We marched to Martin Place where there was poetry and music. At the other end were 24 people from the UPP shouting. “We won, you losers”. They were 24 people with faces covered in the Australian flag shouting at 7000 women (and men) at the women’s march. They were chanting because Trump was their new super hero. Someone that spoke for them. Those of us at the other end were on the streets because no one was speaking for us.
Where are we at? What is the state of our nation for women?
The gender pay gap in Australia is still 17%.
Women in male dominated industries such as ours is 6%.
Violence against women fatalities in 2016 = 71
I could go on all day about figures and the stifling of rights for women but this is about the march. It was a moment in time to be inspired, renewed and revitalise the soul for the fight ahead, however, there was a moment during the march when a man on the footpath shouted “Selfish. Selfish. Selfish” to the women at the march. It’s true we were selfish. Selfish enough to think that women deserve better, women deserve equal rights, women deserve to be heard, allowed to exist freely and equally, selfish enough to think that its not happening and the only way to tell the world was to hold you up from crossing the road on a Saturday.
Who is the selfish one?
Just this week I visited one of our workplaces because the employer wants to celebrate International Women’s Day. One of the members said to me in response to my explanation of why I was there. “When is International Men’s Day Mich?” My response? Every bloody day.
We will march again.
International women’s day march is on Saturday March 11 at Hyde Park at 10am. See you there.