On Saturday, March 9, thousands marched through Toronto for International Women’s Day.

Last year’s march focused on fighting the austerity agenda. This year the anti-austerity struggle across the country has been radicalized by Idle No More, began and led by indigenous women, which was a major theme of IWD this year — with indigenous women leading the march under the banner “fires are burning, we are rising.”

Recently Human Rights Watch issued a damning report on police abuse of aboriginal women. Challenging violence against women was the second major theme — with people chanting “stop the silence, end the violence.” There were also demands for pay equity and childcare.


While the Harper government has ignored violence against women, pay equity and childcare, it is claiming to address discrimination against women through Motion 408, scheduled for debate in Parliament later this month, which attacks abortion rights. The fight for reproductive justice was the third major theme of IWD, and the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics mobilized — including their banner “maternal health includes abortion” which led the G20 protests in 2010.

From the G20 protests in 2010, the Egyptian revolution beginning in 2011, and Idle No More that began at the end of 2012 — women are at the heart of the fight for a better world. As the motto of IWD says, “the rising of the women is the rising of us all.”

Jesse McLaren

Jesse McLaren

Jesse McLaren is a physician, activist and blogger, who like Virchow believes that if medicine is to accomplish its great task, it must intervene in political and social life. He blogs at yourheartsontheleft.blogspot.com,...