The Huffington Post by Jess Tomlin 10 November 2016
Like so many Canadians today, I am in stunned by the news coming out of the U.S. With this presidential decision, the United States of America has put LGBT rights, immigrant rights, and reproductive rights on the line.
In the bright light of day, feminists in North America and around the world are wondering where we go from here. And where we go depends so much on Canada’s readiness to step up.
The American election is just one heartbreaking example of the ways that the geopolitical climate globally is steadily and perniciously shifting to the right. The devastation we felt this morning is amplified because of last month’s halted peace deal in Colombia.
Because of Brexit.
Because of xenophobic attacks on immigrants fleeing war zones in Burundi and Syria.
With our self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister, Canada has never been more needed. As human rights defenders, we are in the most privileged position of having a legitimate voice in this country. This means we must be diligent in raising Canadian consciousness about the millions of women and girls around the world whose rights and lives may be at stake if U.S. policies and international commitments — those preventing violence, providing access to reproductive health, and protecting the rights of sexual minorities, refugees and other marginalized populations — start to erode.
The Canadian feminists I know and love woke up ready to fight alongside the women who are the most threatened by regressive policies: From the immigrant women at the American border to the immigrant women at the Ugandan border.
From the lesbians in the state of Georgia to the lesbians in the country of Georgia.
From Indigenous women in North Dakota to Indigenous women in northern Guatemala.
Today we got a wake up call that is too big, too close to home, and too consequential to ignore.
As an increasingly isolated beacon of progressive values in North America and even the world, Canadians have a role to play in preventing the reversal of critical progress for women’s rights. Especially now, we must first hold our Government to account for their stated priorities to advance the rights of women and girls.
To do this, we can derive energy from the courageous women around the world who fight for their rights in the most restrictive contexts and who never back down.
For example, last month, the women in Colombia who were most impacted by forced disappearances, displacement and unspeakable violence voted for peace no matter how imperfect. And when peace didn’t come, they took comfort in each other. Then they took stock. Then they took action.
Let us do the same. And let this moment be our Canadian rallying cry.
As individuals, we can listen to and comfort each other, seek ways to heal inequalities within our own borders, and support the women and girls around the globe who work each and every day — even the hardest of days — at the grassroots level.
We stand on the shoulders of many women who have fought long and hard to ensure that Canada is on the right side of history. Now more than ever, Canadian women and men have the privilege and the opportunity to shape the kind of country others look to — one that celebrates diversity, inclusion and human rights.
Let’s lean immediately into this and be our best Canadian selves.
Jess Tomlin is holding ground and breaking ground as the Executive Director of The MATCH International Women’s Fund.