HUNDREDS of people converged on Wangaratta CBD on Monday morning to rally for gender equality and violence prevention.
Organised by Women's Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), the Wangaratta Women's March 4 Justice was one of dozens of marches across the nation, all of them ignited by recent allegations of rape and sexual harassment in Federal Parliament.
WHGNE Amanda Kelly said more than 500 people - many of them dressed in black - joined Monday's march from all parts of the North East.
She said people from Wangaratta, Benalla, Yackandandah, Yarrawonga, Eldorado, Glenrowan and Porepunkah were among those registered for the COVID-Safe event.
"We had such a good turnout," she said.
"We had all genders, we had women of all ages including some in their 90s.
"We had some 12 and 13-year-olds share with the crowd at the end why it was important to them to be involved and they had us all in tears."
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The national series of marches seeks to push for three actions to ensure safety and justice for women in the political arena: an independent review of politicians and staffers exploring experiences of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in parliaments; immediate Gender Equality Audits of all parliaments across Australia; and support to enhance the online safety for women in politics.
Ms Kelly said the March 4 Justice campaigns wanted systemic change in Federal Parliament to ensure women were safe within the party politics machine.
"Broadly, it's about everyone being safe irrespective of their workplace," Ms Kelly said.
"We want Federal Parliament to be held to the highest standards."
Queen of Hearts Tattoos Wangaratta owner Donna McMillan cheered on the rally from her Murphy Street shopfront yesterday.
She wanted to join them but had to open her store.
"I'm a woman in a male-dominated industry," she said.
"The rally is very credible and the turnout for Wangaratta is fantastic!"
Porepunkah's Gesine Wiedmann hoped the campaign would gain traction.
"I've been an activist since the 1970s, starting with the women's liberation movement," she said.
"I don't think that much has changed in that time; domestic violence, rape and lower pay for women are all still big concerns.
"Our leaders need to take charge and be the change; not be the ones calling women liars and cows!"
Ms Kelly urged people to maintain pressure on politicians for change via calls to action on WHGNE's website.
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