By Joseph Quigley 
BELLEVILLE – Local social justice advocates gathered to march for International Women’s Day on Thursday.
Belleville’s International Women’s Day Committee organized the event, which also included a presentation and discussion on women’s issues. This was followed by a march, which looped around the library through Pinnacle Street and Front Street.
Karen Fisk, a member of the committee, said that the day carries a lot of meaning for the progress of women in the world.
“The celebration part of it is how far women have come in equality with role models, with women’s positions increasing in business and in politics. But it’s also a way to get the word out that there’s still a long way to go as far as equality goes for women,” she said.
International Women’s Day has a long history, but the United Nations worldwide celebration of it on March 8 began in 1975. Since then, the day has become a massive global event.
Fisk said that International Women’s Day has remained popular because of its continued necessity.
“The issues (that women face) still exist, and I think until all those issues don’t exist, this day will always need to be there.”
Maggie Helwig, a guest speaker before the march on Thursday, is a social justice advocate and author of several novels. She said that the day has changed over the years, but remains meaningful.
“I think it’s probably still a good thing. How important it is depends on the social and cultural context is it in. It’s less of a big deal now. But as long as there’s people around that go, ‘hey, why isn’t there an International Men’s Day’, then (this day) is worthwhile.”
As the group marched through downtown, they echoed a number of different messages, including “violence against women has to stop”:http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/iwd-march.mp3 
Bayside Secondary School student Joshua Tripster, who acted as the megaphone caller for the march, said these messages were uplifting.
“I found it was very empowering, not only for the people that were in the parade but also for the people that were hearing the march. It is very important that people are aware of the problems throughout the world. Violence against women happens all the time, and International Women’s Day brings this issue to light,” he said.
The International Women’s Day Committee will also hold a screening of short films on the day itself, March 8, at the Core Arts & Culture Centre  starting at 2 p.m.