Post by Michelle Di Cintio
In honor of International Women’s Day, CARE Canada is preparing for its second annual Walk in Her Shoes campaign, which will be held March 6th, starting at Parliament Hill. Participants are marching in solidarity with women and girls in developing countries who are forced to walk an average of 6 km a day (10,000 steps) to gather necessities such as food, water, and firewood. Ottawa is one of five Canadian cities participating this year. A mix of students, women’s organizations, and parliamentarians are joining compassionate Ottawa citizens for the march.
Despite being the second one for the capital, the campaign is on its seventh year, having begun in 2011. This march is part of a global #March4Women effort that is taking place throughout the entire month. Not only are marches happening in cities around the world, but other activities are taking place as well to highlight struggle for women’s rights and gender equality. “I think it’s really important that Ottawa, people that are participating in this event, should really feel like they’re part of this global effort and this global campaign to celebrate women and girls,” Darcy Knoll explained. Knoll has been part of CARE Canada for the past five years and has an insider’s view on the impact these marches can have.
All funds raised by the march will be going to one of CARE Canada’s ongoing humanitarian efforts. This year the focus is CARE’s Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies project in Malawi. Other projects include fighting malnutrition and improving health and sanitation in various South African countries. By raising funds, CARE can directly support these women, and empower them to take charge of their lives. “There’s a big effort to empower the women directly, to really be able to take charge of their nutrition and lead their own efforts to improve their health,” Knoll said. Knoll, who has traveled to different CARE projects before, added, “I think the thing that struck me was how proud the women were; that they were the ones who were leading these efforts, that they were the ones who were taking charge in improving the health of their overall communities.”
CARE is a long standing international humanitarian and development charity that began in 1945. From its humble beginnings of sending ‘care packages’ to people displaced by World War II, it has grown to become a large organization that is active in over 90 countries worldwide, fighting to end poverty and social injustice. They operate in a variety of areas that have been impacted by wars and natural disasters. The scope of their work is large, but by collectively gathering support from around the world, the impact each individual has can be immense. “It comes back to the support of Canadians that really allows us to do this type of work,” Knoll said. “It’s certainly really uplifting to see that kind of thing; to know that Canadian donors are making a substantial difference so far away and the contribution really is felt and it really is making a difference.”
It seems particularly fitting that in light of the increasing spotlight on women’s rights and women’s issues that the Walk In Her Shoes campaign, along with CARE’s other initiatives, are ramping up awareness and support. “All of these pieces are a part of ensuring that this isn’t just a moment in time but we’re all working together to build a movement for change, for gender equality, to improve women’s rights. And it’s not just in Canada but also in some of these places where maybe they don’t always have a voice in the popular discussion. It’s really going to be good to see people coming together and stepping out to support women and girls worldwide.”
The event will be held from 11:30am-1pm on March 6. After speeches, the march will begin at Parliament Hill and end at City Hall where people can have refreshments, gather more information about the initiative, and celebrate women and girls while discussing the work that still needs to be done. For more information check out the Facebook page. To register as a fundraiser head to Walk In Her Shoes Ottawa and go to CARE Canada for more information.