The third annual Women’s March Reno planned for Saturday, January, 19

by Kristin Simons

The Women's March in January 2018 drew large crowds to Reno. (Matthew Fonken)

Carson City – Matthew Fonken is the lead organizer for the third annual Women’s March Reno, although he points out that this is an event that takes a coalition of groups to push it forward. Fonken came into this role after the former lead for the Women’s March Reno, Mylan Hawkins encouraged him to take on the role.

“The founder of Women’s March Reno , Mylan Hawkins, asked for me to step up last year to be the lead and again this year,” Fonken said. “The last two years I’ve been working for Organizing for Action- OFA and this year I’m a volunteer, again, working to make sure that this march goes on, successfully.”

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There’s been many controversies with the Women’s March since it’s inception. Some say it’s not inclusive enough and even excludes many groups of people. Fonken emphasizes that inclusivity is a very important factor for the march in Reno, in fact, the indigenous community in this state and nearby regions will be taking on a prominent role again.

“Absolutely, always inclusive. We strive to make sure that we’re representing our entire community,” Fonken said. “And one of, I think, our most successful things is working very closely with the indigenous community here in Northern Nevada. This year they’re growing their numbers to lead the march once more, with their jingle dancers and drumming. We’re going to have the prayer song and ceremony and I’m very excited to see natives coming from all over the state of Nevada and a little bit from California, so that is just one way that we make sure to be inclusive for our community.”

Something else that might help people who have negative experiences in terms of inclusivity with the national Women’s March, is that this Women’s March is not a part of the national organization.

“Well, if I didn’t say it before we are not affiliated with nationals and we make sure to do everything on our part to make this representative of the Reno community and to say that we’re doing anything necessarily specific that’s different than others,” Fonken said. “I think it’s just the fact that we haven’t gone away, we’re still here. We’re the same organizations that have been working together as a coalition for many of the other issues, such as, health care, immigration rights, reproductive rights and all of the big issues that have been on a federal and state level. We are still the same organizations, still working, still making sure that we’re making progress for our futures. ”

“There are some Women March organizations across the country that are affiliated with nationals, from my knowledge from the founder we have always stayed independent from nationals so we could have our own autonomy and we could do what we needed to,” Fonken said.

The third annual Women’s March Reno is this Saturday and starts at 11 am, with speeches, entertainment and more.

“So this year we are marching from the Virginia Street arch in Downtown Reno, that is where we’ll meet,” Fogden said. “We are looking forward to everyone coming down and meet us. We’ve got the streets closed from Ford Street all the way to Mills Street, and we’ll be marching from the Arch to City Plaza where the program will begin with our designated speakers. We are excited to have a live band with Wheatstone Bridge performing, as well as our march will be led by our indigenous people, jingle dancers and drummers. All of the native women and they’re representing the missing and murdered indigenous women, specifically, and all communities So, we’re super excited, it’s going to start at 11 o’clock in the morning. That’s when we are planning to start the march , so we want everyone to start gathering around 10 am. We’ve got some local community activists that are going to be leading on chants. We have local businesses that are going to be providing hot coffee and discounts on drinks and food and there restaurant’s at the Basement, so it’s looking to be a good year. We’ve had a good response to our event page and our website, so I think it’s going to be [a] very, very successful event this year.”

For more information, go to Women’s March Reno or 3rd Annual Women’s March Reno on Facebook or to womensmarchreno.org