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South Bend community prepares to march in solidarity with women’s rights

| Friday, January 20, 2017

Members of the South Bend community, many dressed in pink, will be marching this Saturday in solidarity with one cause: women’s rights.

The Feminist Federation of South Bend and Pro-Choice South Bend are hosting a short march through downtown South Bend in an effort to emphasize the importance of women’s rights, safety, health and families. The Notre Dame Gender Studies department is also a sponsor.

Media coordinator of Pro-Choice South Bend Karen Nemes said although the main march is being held in Washington, D.C., there are many local organizations working towards raising awareness as well.

“It’s always really uplifting,” Nemes said about the march. “I always get an immense recharge of my own batteries when I see people of all ages and different socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnic groups in solidarity.”

Jamie Morgan, director of the board for Pro-Choice South Bend, said the local march started when members of the community came forward and said they wanted to do something like the Women’s March on Washington but closer to home.

“We have invited everyone, the march is for all,” Morgan said. “From this march, we hope that we are more aware and united so that people can continue to take action in supporting equal rights for all.”

According to the Facebook event, participants are encouraged to wear pink and hold signs as they march. The march will conclude at Vegetable Buddies with food, drink and dance for all those who participated.

Junior Joey Wikelski said not only is the march important because it champions for women’s rights, but also because it is an act of solidarity with the hundreds of sister marches taking place across the country on the same day. Taking place the day after Inauguration Day, Wikelski said she hopes this march holds extra importance.

“I hope the march sends a message to our new administration on their first day in office and to everyone who felt threatened or insulted by campaign rhetoric that we believe women’s rights are human rights and that when we defend the marginalized among us, we defend all of us,” Wikelski said.

Wikelski said when she heard about the March on Washington, she was so excited that she started to look at flights. However, when she found out there was also a march in South Bend, she knew she could not turn down the opportunity to be able to support the same cause locally.

“As a Notre Dame student, the Women’s March on South Bend will be another opportunity to break out of the Notre Dame bubble and stand in solidarity with people from the South Bend community as we collectively bring attention to important issues facing women in the United States today,” Wikelski said. “It’s also been exciting to see other students from the Notre Dame family want to get involved; on Saturday, I’ll be leading a carpool of friends downtown so we can all march together.”

Nemes said anyone who is in support of the platform and wants to work both locally and nationally is welcome to get involved. She said the focus on the march is really about unity and equality.

“It’s bigger than any one person or politician,” Nemes said. “Certainly, the election took up a lot of national attention this past year and I think for a lot of folks that really inspired them to be more politically active whether it’s locally or on a larger scale.”

Wikelski said she is excited to meet the other marchers and have their voices be heard as well.

“For me, I’m hoping the positive energy of the march and the feeling of being involved in what is greater than myself will be a boost in energy and morale as I figure out my role in the movement,” Wikelski said.

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena