Women's March in Toronto focuses on 'momentum' for change strengthened by #MeToo movement

Thousands of women and their allies descended en masse on downtown Toronto Saturday for the Women's March with deeper demands for women's rights that organizers say is inspired by the #MeToo movement.

'There's renewed optimism that change can happen,' organizer says

Thousands and their allies returned to downtown Toronto on Saturday with a renewed sense of momentum for change amid the #MeToo movement. (CBC)

Thousands of women and their allies descended en masse on downtown Toronto Saturday for the Women's March.

While Toronto's event marks the anniversary of the historic Women's March in Washington, D.C., organizers say advocacy for equal rights and equality for women has been amplified by the #MeToo movement.

"There's renewed optimism that change can happen, and I think people want to show their support for that," said Kavita Dogra, an organizer of Toronto's march.  

A troupe of about a dozen speakers addressed a sea of women and men at Nathan Phillips Square demanding a change in women's rights. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Last year, more than a million women marched on Washington and in a series of solidarity marches in cities across Canada and around the globe to protest Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president. 

Since then, Dogra explains the #MeToo uprising that thrust sexual harassment and abuse into the spotlight has created a renewed sense of ambition for deeper social and political change to women's rights that has moved past Trump. 

"We are hoping to keep people inspired to take action, to keep the movement going forward, trying to build a city that is great for everyone," said Dogra. 

The Women's March in Toronto started at Nathan Phillips Square and travelled north to Dundas Street West before wrapping in city hall's shadow. (CBC)

Bianca Spence, an organizer of Toronto's march, says she's also witnessed this. Over the last year, she explains more people have gotten involved in their communities and are standing up for women's rights as a result of #MeToo. 

"I think the energy is changing and I think the conversation is changing," she said.

"Last year's march was really about resistance against the Trump presidency. We've tried to change the focus and bring it back home because we've got our own issues here in Toronto." 

An organizer of the Women's March in Toronto says this year's event has moved beyond U.S. President Donald Trump and expanded into a deeper conversation about women's rights. (CBC)

Janelle Hinds, a 25-year-old engineering graduate, is one of the young women who spoke at Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday.

She told CBC News the Women's March and #MeToo movement provided openings for her work in advocating for more women in science and technology.

She's been doing that for two years, and "I'm starting to feel it now," said Hinds.

"I think there is a lot of momentum."

Hinds said the inaugural Women's March helped women feel more empowered, and #MeToo has carried on the feeling.

"One hundred per cent, I do not think it fizzled out, if anything it's only gotten stronger," she said.

With files from CBC Radio's Metro Morning and Meagan Fitzpatrick