By Wendy Maloff
On the night of Sat., Sept. 15, women will take to the street for Calgary’s 20th annual Take Back the Night march.
"The premise of the march when it started was that women should be safe to walk the street at anytime without men’s protection," explained Susan Gillies of the Calgary Women’s Centre. "The rally and the march itself take issues that are not traditionally visible or discussed in society, and it forces people to acknowledge that the issues are there. The event is a way to bring awareness."
The Take Back the Night march has occurred since the early ’70s and within Calgary since 1981. The event will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.
"We’re trying to get everyone that’s been there over the years to come out again and celebrate the 20 years," said Gillies. "We really want to get the young women out since it’s an important event in the women’s community."
For the anniversary, special guest Jean Swanson will speak at the rally prior to the march. Swanson is an anti-poverty activist and author of the new book Poor Bashing–The Politics of Exclusion.
"No matter what kind of violence women are facing, it’s all made much, much worse by poverty." said Gillies.
Jean Swanson will also make a presentation on Fri., Sept. 14, at a brown-bag luncheon hosted by the Elizabeth Fry Society at the Calgary Multicultural Society.
"There are so many reasons why violence occurs in our society, we decided to focus on one perspective, in this case, poverty," explained Charity Dyke of the EFS. "Friday’s presentation will be focused more on the criminalization [the negative stigma] of poverty since we deal with the criminalization of women."
Dyke added that Friday’s event will be open to the general public and anyone who is interested in the impact of poverty on the community in which they live. It is free to whoever wishes to attend and donations will be accepted.
The Take Back the Night march starts with a rally at 7 p.m. at Memorial Park in downtown Calgary. Gillies explained that men are invited to show their support by attending the rally and closing ceremonies but are asked to refrain from marching in keeping with the spirit of the event.