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January 2019 - Sara Bingham

Silent No Longer

Sara Bingham’s laptop is headquarters for a huge national brand

By Paul Knowles

Women’s March Canada has a branding problem – and it’s the opposite of most entities trying to launch a brand. Volunteer Executive Director Sara Bingham, who lives in Waterloo Region, explains that, “the brand is so big… but the national head office is my laptop, on my couch.” Because the organization has experienced phenomenal growth in only two years, it is indeed very well known – and the assumption by the general public is that it is a well-established, well-funded, institution. Nothing, says Bingham, could be further from the truth.

Bingham is living proof of the need for Women’s March Canada to achieve some funding stability. By day, she is a business advisor employed by the city of Kitchener; in her off-hours, she is the unpaid Executive Director of Women’s March Canada. “My 9 to 5 is small business, and my 5-9 is Women’s March Canada.”

The first official Women’s March took place in Washington, D.C., in 2017. It was a social media-promoted, spontaneous response to the election of Donald Trump. Bingham attended that event, which attracted 470,000 participants, and she was inspired. Bingham believes that the issues being raised in that first American march translate into a Canadian context. She says the issues highlighted by right-wing wins in the US are happening across “the entire world… and we’re seeing it in Canada. We cannot be complacent.”

“We have a strategic plan to put more pro-choice feminists into office… I’m not just saying ‘women’.”

The stated mission of the Women’s Walk Canada is “Inspiring, uniting and leading the charge for the advancement of women across Canada.” Bingham says that the goals are “health, economic security, regulations (an equal seat at the table) and safety.”

Can that be achieved by marching, one day a year? That’s just a start, says Bingham. “We’re not just marching every year… we have a strategic plan to put more pro-choice feminists into office… and I’m not just saying ‘women’.”

The 2019 Women’s March will take place on January 19. The first march here attracted about 12 people; the second, in 2018, drew 600. Bingham expects more this year. And that kind of growth is happening across Canada. In 2018, there were marches in 40 Canadian communities. Bingham expects there to be more, and that they will be bigger, in 2019. The exponential growth of the organization and the event means that Bingham has been more than busy in the lead-up to the national March.

Bingham has a goal for her organization – “I want to create the Women’s March Canada as a self-sustaining, ongoing organization until it’s not needed any more.” That requires funding,.

She does hope for a future where the organization would become redundant… but that is not the present. Although Canada is a country that officially provides equal rights to women, Bingham says, “We do on paper have equal rights… but we don’t. When we get to equal representation, you will see things changing, and that change isn’t a bad thing.” She told Exchange, “My background is in speech therapy, helping people who have no voice, to use their voice.” What she did as a therapist, she is now doing on a national scale as an activist for women’s rights. “We’re not going to be silent any more.”


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