News / Winnipeg

How 'me too' will shape Winnipeg's Take Back the Night rally

The annual event is happening Thursday, as part of an international protest against sexual violence, domestic violence and street harassment toward women.

Marchers fill Main Street in Hamilton, Ont. as they walk in the Take Back the Night march on Oct. 13, 2016.

John Rennison / Spectator Staff

Marchers fill Main Street in Hamilton, Ont. as they walk in the Take Back the Night march on Oct. 13, 2016.

As social media is flooded with the words "me too" – a new movement denouncing sexual assault and harassment – an upcoming Winnipeg event is looking to carve out space for survivors.

The Take Back the Night march is happening Thursday, as part of an international protest against sexual violence, domestic violence and street harassment toward women—this year’s theme is "we believe survivors."

“The timing is kind of interesting, because clearly this is a phenomenon that has been going on for much longer than the current discourse around how we talk about sexual assault and violence in our community,” said Em Moon, one of the event’s organizers, who prefers to go by the singular pronoun they.

“We think that considering the ‘me too’ phenomenon that just started, it’s going to be a really powerful evening," Moon said. "It can be kind of an emotional event." 

This year’s Take Back the Night also runs adjacent to the five-day inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. The Winnipeg hearings started Monday.

In light of that discussion—and within the broader context of living in Winnipeg, which is on Treaty 1 territory—event organizers felt it was important to “amplify marginalized voices,” Moon said.

The night’s MC is Charlotte Nolin from Mount Carmel Clinic’s Sage House, and the event also includes speakers with lived experience of human trafficking.

“I think it’s kind of radical to carve a space for survivors to be honoured and accepted without really having to take on the responsibility of proving that their trauma is real,” Moon said.

“[That] isn’t a dynamic that exists in most spaces." 

The event includes a number of services for attendees, including bus tickets, an ASL interpreter, an accessible venue with a gender neutral washroom and support counsellors.

“We want folks from all parts of life to attend and we don’t want to have any barriers to the event because the reality is survivors exist in multiple areas,” Moon said.

The night starts at 6:30 p.m. with a rally in the University of Winnipeg’s Riddell Hall. The march from the U of W to police headquarters and back starts at 7 p.m.

Winnipeg women by the numbers

When it comes to gender equality, Winnipeg is not a great city for women.

According to a new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on the status of women across the country, Manitoba's capital placed number 17 out of 25.

The report weighed differences in men and women’s access to economic security, education, health, leadership and security.

The following statistics are from the "Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada" report:

- Women in Winnipeg hold just 35 per cent of management positions.

- The report estimates that there were 14,363 incidents of sexual assault and 25,462 incidents of intimate partner violence in the five years leading up to 2014 in Winnipeg. The unfounded rate for police-reported sexual assaults in Winnipeg is two per cent, compared to 19 per cent nationally.

- 45 per cent of working-age women hold full-time jobs.

- Women make 76 per cent of men’s wages. The gap has changed by only one per cent in the past five years.

- Women are more likely than men to live in poverty, with 15 per cent falling below the low-income measure, compared with 13 per cent of men.

- Women make up less than one in four elected officials in the region—however four out of 11 regional municipalities have elected a female mayor.

- It's not all bleak. According to the report, women in Winnipeg are more likely than men to have completed high school, college or university.

- Women in the city were more likely than men to rate their health as very good or excellent at 59 per cent, compared with 57 per cent.

- Winnipeg’s rates of screening for cervical cancer are above-average, with 76 per cent of women reporting they had a Pap smear in the last three years.

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