The Importance of Celebration in Movement Building: IWD 2020
By Carly Friesen, YWCA Toronto Advocacy Advisory Committee Member
I’ve always loved the lead up to International Women's Day (IWD). The city is full of different events honouring, celebrating and supporting women. Recently, I joined a panel discussion hosted by Progress Toronto with long-time organizers Carolyn Egan and Winnie Ng, moderated by city trailblazer Ausma Malik.
Both Winnie and Carolyn have been heavily involved in organizing the IWD march in Toronto. Carolyn has been an organizer since the very first march in 1978 and continues to be involved to this day.
Near the end of the evening, she was asked a question about the importance of celebration in movement building. Her response really resonated with me. In Carolyn’s own words:
“International Women’s Day is a wonderful fight back! When we talk about the issues we are fighting for: Indigenous justice, climate and economic justice, end to violence, end to war – these are pivotal issues today. Yet, at the same time, anybody who is a part of that march knows it is a tremendous celebration. It's a tremendous celebration of a movement that is alive and fighting.
When you see what comes out of [the rally], two hours of music, cultural entertainment, strong speakers, and a real, real sense of sisterhood and solidarity. When we move onto the street, it is a celebration of our strengths – because they are real! If we don't have a sense of our strengths and celebrate that and just be there in a way that is loving as well as fighting – well then it's not the kind of movement we want.
We have the sense [at the IWD march] that we are in this for a lifetime because we are here building a better world. I think that is what the Women’s Movement, in all its diversity, brings to the struggle, and I think at the IWD march you will feel that and you will be really invigorated.”
I have attended the IWD march for a number of years now but it finally clicked why it is so important to me. On March 8th, it is not just about the struggle; it is about the celebration, too. So often in our movement, as soon as we win something, it's on to tackling the next challenge. Although our perseverance and commitment is incredibly important, it is equally important to celebrate how much we have achieved and to reflect on our wins.
So I challenge you this IWD to take some time to celebrate the work you, or the people in your life, do to build a better world for women, girls, and gender-diverse folks. Attend the march or go to an event. Speak with your friends about IWD and what it means to you. Think about something you can celebrate and take the time to do that.
As the poster for this year’s march tells us – yes, the world is on fire, but we are rising anyway!
Celebrate International Women's Day by honouring the feminists, change-makers and inspirational women in your life. Make a donation to YWCA Toronto and send a fierce feminist e-card to someone you love.
Honour your favourite feminist now!