Launched March 11th, 2017.
Reclaim Our Streets: Women’s Solidarity March was a civil society led regional march organised by Life In Leggings: Caribbean Alliance Against Gender-based Violence.
This march was based in Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and St. Lucia.
The intention of this march was to be a stepping stone in creating support systems that educate the public about the trauma caused by sexual abuse and ways in which the community can come together to prevent abuse, protect and create conditions in which victims of abuse can begin to heal.
The social media campaign #Lifeinleggings created a safe space for thousands of women in the Caribbean to share their stories online of sexual violence without fear of ridicule or shame. This project encouraged civil society to further stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence.
Reclaim Our Streets: Women’s Solidarity March aimed to further the work of the hashtag by emphasising that women and girls deserve to feel safe walking the streets of their own countries. As mentioned in many of the stories, the streets even when busy are described as unsafe by those who have experienced street harassment and sexual violence. In addition it sought to challenge the behaviours in society that normalise these incidents such as respectability politics that dictate that women deserve the sexual violence they experience because of the clothes they wear.
The project was intentional in it’s design to show the survivors of sexual violence that they’re not alone and we all have a role to play in eradicating GBV. It recognized that there needed to be a space which acknowledged that many Caribbean women have experienced some type of gender-based violence (GBV) and that there can be no progress if we do not acknowledge the importance of women’s rights to safety and sovereignty over their bodies.
Finally, the march sought to reach a wider national audience including those who may not have engaged online but are also affected by these issues.
This collaborative project was organised by the Life In Leggings Team, various regional CSOs in association with support by The Bureau of Gender Affairs, Institute of Gender & Development Studies and UN Women Caribbean.
Details of the March:
- The marches began with addresses from designated speakers before leading into a non-violent, empowering solidarity march.
- This was a peaceful march which also called upon regional parliamentarians and the bureaus of gender affairs to join in the campaign. This march was not a protest against the government.
- The outline stated that marches should be representative of all women regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender expression, sexual identity, immigration status, economic status or disability.
- The event began at 3pm EST. It was a simultaneous march.
- Many participants wore branded #Lifeinleggings shirts, shirts the colours of orange and purple due to causes they represent [opposing violence against women and girls ] and individuals wore leggings to stand in defiance of the respectability politics that women and girls have been force to stay in line with the majority of their lives.
- The emphasis of the march was that we all have a role to play in eradicating gender-based violence therefore everyone was invited to participate. Whether they be man, woman, non-binary or child, no contribution was too small for this cause.
- The invitation was also extended to women in government, academia, faith-based organisations, women’s organisations, the private sector, military and cultural affairs.
- Women (and men) marched through the streets of the region simultaneously with their placards, chanting in an attempt to show solidarity with survivors of gender-based violence.
- We reclaimed our streets not only for ourselves but for the generations of women who had yet to come and in memory of the women and girls that we had lost to gender-based violence.