Spotlight on Indigenous women's rights as World March of Women's 5th action wraps up
Quebec coalition demands better protection, end of racial profiling of Indigenous women
Several marches took place across Quebec Sunday afternoon to close off the fifth edition of the international World March of Women, which placed Indigenous women's rights front and centre this year.
Organizers with the Quebec Coalition of the World March of Women (CQMMF) are asking the province to institute systemic change and concrete measures to better protect the daily lives of Indigenous women.
Other major demands include the end of racial profiling, stronger economic integration of immigrants and to increase funding toward eliminating violence against women.
"We want the police forces to stop their practice of racial profiling and police stops. We want redress for forced sterilizations," said Marie-Andrée Gauthier, a spokesperson for the CQMMF.
The COVID-19 pandemic's pressure on Indigenous communities and Joyce Echaquan's death at the Joliette hospital led the CQMMF to further highlight the demands, explained Gauthier.
Notably, the CQMMF wants the government to help eliminate all forms of violence against women by launching a national awareness campaign in partnership with independent community action organizations. It's also calling for increased funding for organizations that provide services to women.
Gauthier said the government needs to propose systemic change and to not just put a "bandage" on the issues. She said there's a lack of resources to support immigrants women and is calling for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour to fight poverty.
"During the pandemic, we saw that more women were working in so-called essential services and in unacceptable working conditions and wages," said Gauthier.
The international slogan of the World March for Women "resist to live — march to transform" is especially meaningful in Quebec, Gauthier added. Since the beginning of 2021, 16 women have been killed in acts of domestic violence in the province.
"When the government offers solutions, they should get at the root causes of the problem and not just plaster over the various problems that women experience. We want systemic changes," she said.
These demands, which are the result of consultations, were brought to the attention of the Quebec Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, in March 2020.
The CQMMF says it has not had any follow-up or concrete commitment in response, Gauthier said.
The group, which consists of more than 40 organizations, intends to return to Charest and meet with various political parties.
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The World March of Women happens every five years, from March 8 until Oct. 17, but was postponed last year — on its 20th anniversary — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The march began in Quebec in 2000, and has since spread internationally. It's now celebrated on all five continents.