Approximately 130 people gathered for Fredericton’s second-annual Women’s March downtown on Saturday, hoping for a change in attitude, more women in politics, increased racial and sexual equality, pay gap closure and an end to cat-calling and sexual assault.
Several St. Thomas University students attended the march, including second-year student Emma Rhodes, who carried a sign reading, “Feminists unite. Equality for all.“
“I think … as long as we draw attention to a problem it helps address it,” Rhodes said.
This year’s march came on the heels of the major anti-harrassment #MeToo movement, and almost a year after millions of people, mostly women, took to the streets in protest of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration — the very event that inspired smaller international movements like the ones in New Brunswick.
The She Can conference, focused on engaging young women in politics, took place at the Wu Conference Centre on Jan. 20 as well. The event was organized by the New Brunswick chapter of Equal Voice Canada in partnership with Women for 50%, STU, and the University of New Brunswick.
Rhodes said she believes in the push for getting more women into politics.
“I think it’s harder for a woman to get into politics and that’s why we’re doing this She Can conference to address it [and] tell people they can still do it,” Rhodes said.
The conference featured a panel organized by the chair of Equal Voice New Brunswick, Vaishu Anupindi. The panelists discussed their personal experiences running for office and the challenges women face when advocating for issues they believe in.
One of the panelists was Susan Holt, who will run as the Liberal candidate for the Fredericton South riding in the 2018 provincial election.
Holt was born and raised in Fredericton and has always been interested in public speech and leadership.
“Growing up, I was the kid who always participated in student government,” Holt said.
She graduated from Queen’s University with a bachelor in arts and chemistry and honours in economics. Later, she worked with human resources, sales and management and spent time in Montreal, Australia, India and Ottawa.
She returned to Fredericton and became CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
That’s where her career as a politician started. Whenever she wrote articles or gave interviews,
Holt was encouraged by close colleagues and party members to run for office.
Now, 10 years later, she’s decided it’s the right time to put her name in the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.
Holt said women have led provinces in the past, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given women more active roles in his government.
“This is a really exciting time for women in politics because of this measure of his,” Holt said.
And the same is happening in New Brunswick, Holt said, where having female candidates is seen as nothing short of beneficial for a government.
Holt believed the She Can conference will make young women feel more motivated to politically make a change when they see they have support.
“The time for a woman to join politics is now,” she said.
“We need change.”