by Nivetha Sri Shanker
The Women’s March Malaysia, in concert with the marches and protests around the world, saw a few hundred participants: men, women including those from the LGBTIQA+ community; marching hand-in-hand and chanting demands for a more inclusive future.
Our demands, brief yet hard-hitting, are as follows:
1. Stop Gender Discrimination
2. Destroy Rape Culture and Sexual Violence
3. Stop Environmental Destruction
4. Fight for Equal Opportunities and Equal Wages
5. Uphold Women’s Democratic and Leadership Rights
Intersectionality and inclusivity are often debated but the brand of feminism we see and hear often lacks the two. But today’s women’s march represented an intersectional and inclusive struggle – not just in the demographics of its participants who were of varying age, race, economic and gender backgrounds – but also in terms of the struggle’s demands which were passionately put forth.
“The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”
– Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, 1989
It was far from a narrow clarion call. We heard the voices of the minorities: indigenous (Orang Asli) women who demanded for better protection of the forests which served as their home, their source of livelihood, as well as their refuge from the intrusion and harassment of outsiders.
Meanwhile, domestic workers and homemakers demanded for domestic labourers to be recognized as the driving force of Malaysia’s economy instead of subhuman labourers. This reminds us that we don’t need another Adalina case to remind us to treat domestic labourers equally. Representatives of the LGBTQ community also stirred up the crowd by calling attention to their diminishing safety and active persecution.
Policy-makers and trade dealers were called to pay heed to the impact of policies and trade on women and society as a whole. Demands for sex education, safe sex and autonomy over reproductive health were met with roaring applause.
Coming full circle, it would be unfair for me to leave out the men who rose to the occasion by attending, giving rousing speeches of solidarity and chanting against patriarchy. We marched down the streets of Kuala Lumpur from the Sogo to Masjid Jamek, painting the town purple with our demands!
Woman activist, friends harassed near Dang Wangi police HQ https://t.co/bp4NNFtizP
— TheMalaysianInsight (@msianinsight) March 10, 2018
Despite the onslaught of misogynistic and hateful responses hurled at the participants before and in the immediate aftermath of the march did not break our spirit. Harassment and violence against several of the activists will not keep us down. We marched on the streets and we will march on. We shall keep our heads held high, drown out hate with passionate demands for a more inclusive and equal world!
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Featured photo by @oopsviv