Why it's time to march for women's health and safety

Why it’s time to march for women’s health and safety

In January this year five million men, women and children took to the streets around the world to stand up for the rights of women. What started in Washington as the Women’s March grew into a gigantic global event.

A follow up event to Women’s March Sydney, will be held this Saturday 29th of April 2017 at 11am at Prince Alfred Park.

Over 800 participants are expected to participate in the day of action and advocacy for women’s health and safety.

Tracey Spicer will MC alongside a powerful lineup of speakers including human rights activist Saba Vasefi, No Profit from Rape campaign leader Simone White, Aboriginal rights activist Bronwyn Penrith and UNSW SRC Women’s Officer Lizzie Butterworth.

Organisations that have signed on to support Women’s March in the Park, include End12, No Profit from Rape and Time for Action.

Other stand-out partners include Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children NSW, Share the Dignity, Feminist Legal clinic and The University of Sydney Women’s Collective.

We spoke to Sydney March Co-Founder Dr Mindy Freiband about the event.

Why health & safety?

Just 2 days after 5 million people took to the streets in Women’s Marches around the globe on January 21st Trump issued his first policy attacking women, the Global Gag Rule, an order that dramatically diminishes women’s access to health services around the globe.

Several weeks later he stripped US funding for the United Nations Population Fund, a multilateral humanitarian organisation that provides essential health services to women and their families in over 150 countries.

Women’s health and safety is under attack around the globe. We raised our voices in January to say we won’t stand for policies and rhetoric that jeopardize women or other groups marginalized by bigotry and xenophobia. Justice and equality begin with the inherent right to health and safety.

The crowd and momentum at the March in January was incredible – can that be sustained?

The well-attended Women’s Marches in January were a clear call for democracy and civility but they were only the beginning of what promises to be a significant fight to preserve civil liberties and human rights around the world in this global political era of rising populists, nationalists and bigots.

The Marches demonstrated that the energy is out there; our job is to harness it and continue to remind concerned citizens that we all have to remain engaged. There is so much work to be done to hold on to the rights we do have and to fight for those that we, and others, do not yet possess. People continue to demonstrate daily around the world on behalf of human rights but activism is about more than massive demonstrations. Making personal efforts and allowing the cumulative of millions of individuals making small changes can, and will, have an incalculable impact on the world.

What has been happening behind the scenes since the January March?

We’ve been busy keeping our followers informed about what is happening locally and globally and inviting them to get involved. With the issuance of the Global Gag Rule only days after the March, followed a few weeks later by the Australian government’s threats to privatise, for profit, the national Rape and Domestic Violence Services, there has been a lot to keep up with.

Add in the subsequent revocation of millions of dollars to the United Nations Population Fund, cutting into services for women globally and the local NSW debate over foetal personhood, threatening women’s reproductive health services here at home, we haven’t had much time to rest since January.

We planned the Women’s March in the Park to bring people together again to foster community connections, build grassroots alliances, and help people learn new advocacy skills.

While we would like to think we’ll have a break after the Women’s March in the Park, we know better. There is much work to be done and, it would appear, that we will continue to be presented with new challenges as misogyny, bigotry and xenophobia find a place in political agendas around the world.

In January we raised our voices, more than 5 million of us chose democracy over demagoguery, justice over prejudice, and decency over exploitation. Until the will of the collective is heard we, at Women’s March Sydney, will be here encouraging people to speak out and speak loud.

If you are keen to march or be involved please go to https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchsydney/

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