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On March 8, International Women’s Day, local women gathered at Huntsville’s Civic Square for a peaceful strike to highlight gender inequality. It was part of a global movement and international women’s strike – A Day Without a Woman – that followed the Women’s March on Washington.
One of the questions organizers Kathleen May and Sandra Smith encountered several times during the strike was, ‘Do we really need this movement here?’
“We have so many small business owners who are women, and we have a lot of agencies that support women through different needs,” said May. “In order to say we need feminism here and we need structural change here, we need to be able to answer that question. What more do we need (in Muskoka)? It’s going a bit bigger picture. Yes, you may have a really good job and you really like your female boss but are there changes that she’s not in control of that you would like to see in your place of work? And we talked a lot about what rape and abuse and violence look like in Muskoka. A lot of people had this idea that we were striking against the workplace, but we really opened the conversation up much more broad than that.”
May said the strike was successful in that it got conversations started and helped organizers to see what women want in this community. “You just want women to talk – talk about what changes they would like to see, and what it could look like when we do make change. It didn’t occur to me that women maybe weren’t thinking about or didn’t have the information to be able to create that vision (for change).”
She cited the Philadelphia model as another community’s positive method for helping rape victims (which May discussed in an earlier commentary on Doppler – see the link below). “A lot of times I think women just don’t know things are different in another place in a positive way. You can reveal that and they can realize we can have that here, too.”
As a result of the questions and conversations at the strike, May and Smith have created a new collective, Action Muskoka, as a “hub for action, not just things we are doing, but anything else going on that aligns with a particular ethos and then we can cross promote other things that are happening in the community. We are going to continue to do actions and they may be feminist, or they may be environmental; it could be trying to implement structural change or change in bylaws that impact women, or it could be reactive.” A Facebook page will be up soon. In the meantime, anyone with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There are a lot of women in this community who want change,” said May. “We don’t all need to be on the same page, we just need to figure out a way to make space for each other’s stories.”
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