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Pictou County women join worldwide march

Shelley Curtis-Thompson (front right in black coat) holds aloft a Women’s Centres Connect banner with Gail Clarke (front left) from Pictou County at the 2018 March on Canada in downtown Halifax on Saturday.
Shelley Curtis-Thompson (front right in black coat) holds aloft a Women’s Centres Connect banner with Gail Clarke (front left) from Pictou County at the 2018 March on Canada in downtown Halifax on Saturday. - Fram Dinshaw

Women from Pictou County marched alongside their sisters from across Nova Scotia in Halifax Saturday, part of a worldwide movement pushing back against sexism and bigotry.

Shelley Curtis-Thompson joined hundreds of others at Halifax’s Grand Parade to celebrate their fight against sexual harassment and discrimination, personified for many by Donald Trump’s presidency, now a year old.

“I wanted to come to Halifax to march with women for women, in awe of their wisdom and voices, and be part of a celebration that encompasses women in all forms and variety,” said Curtis-Thompson.

She attended the march as a private citizen, but back in New Glasgow, Curtis-Thompson serves as executive director of the Pictou County Women’s Resource and Sexual Assault Centre.

Curtis-Thompson said that speaking out against sexist behaviour and abuse is vital to stopping it.

In the last year, millions of women across the world have indeed spoken up about their experiences of assault and harassment under the #MeToo campaign.

The online movement was sparked last year by accusations of sexual harassment levelled against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. Actress Alyssa Milano suggested that if every women who suffered assault or harassment wrote “Me too,” as a status, it would force people to see how widespread the problem was.

Since it began in October, women from all walks of life have spoken out on social media and elsewhere, turning #MeToo into a discussion about the behaviour of many men and how few women are in positions of power.

Weinstein was soon fired from his own film company and is now facing a criminal investigation by police.

The #MeToo campaign has also exposed harassment in other industries from music to politics. The campaign has also targeted Trump, who has boasted of sexually assaulting women, using crude language to do so.

For Curtis-Thompson, bringing more women into leadership roles in politics and other fields is part of the solution to ingrained sexism.

The time for such action was ideal and she said, “we are in a climate of interest.”

“Women as leaders are creative and have a lot to add,” said Curtis-Thompson.

Women and their allies in at least 38 Canadian communities joined the 2018 March on Canada one year after Trump’s inauguration.

The Halifax march included a separate gathering of transgender and other people who felt the main movement had shut them out.

Marches were also held in cities across the United States, where women are being encouraged to both vote and run for political office in the Congressional mid-term elections this November.

As in 2017, marches took place in cities across the globe such as London and Rome.

While the international movement against sexism and other forms of prejudice gathers steam, the Trump presidency is mired in a federal government shutdown, as lawmakers cannot agree on legislation including immigration reforms.

 

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