Reno – Nevada leads the nation in women elected to offices in state government, and on Saturday January 19 some 1,500 people gathered at the Reno Arch to commemorate the 3rd annual Women’s March, a nationwide event started after the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.
The group marched slowly south along Virginia Street and then into the Reno City Hall “Believe” plaza to celebrate the many accomplishments of the 2018 midterm elections and look ahead.
Those assembled cheered the fact that the 2019 Nevada State Legislature will be the first female majority legislature in national history. They cheered the fact that the 2018 midterm elections spelled two new female state Supreme Court justices, and thereby Nevada became the first state in the nation to have a female majority Supreme Court. To top off the success of women in Nevada political races in 2018, Democrat Jackie Rosen defeated incumbent Republican Dean Heller for one of Nevada’s seats in the the United State Senate, and now both US Senators from Nevada are female.
Matthew Fonken is the lead organizer for the Women’s March Reno and said he was pleased with the turnout.
“This state is setting an example for the rest of the country, and this is an opportunity to show what can be done across the country,” Fonken said. “This is an exciting time to see these women in leadership and making the decisions for once. This is the time.”
Hear an audio interview with Matthew Fonken …
Why did a man organize the event and not a woman.
“Our organization, we base everything we do off of inclusion, and the founder of Women’s March Reno Mylan Hawkins, she came to me back for the second annual and asked for my leadership in facilitating this event, and what we’ve been able to do,” Fonken said. “This is a coalition of multiple organizations that come together. They are collaborative and making sure every little piece of this works, and they’ve gotta have somebody to put it together, keep everybody on pace. That just happens to be my appointment from the founder. I’ve graciously taken it on, and I am very honored to have chosen to do this. This is my way of giving back as well and I want to continue to do so. I want to be there. I want to support, and that’s what our organization stands for and that’s what we’re here for. Our organization stands for including everyone.”
We asked Fonken about Native American participation in the 2019 Women’s March Reno.
“If you’ve noticed, there is a lot more focus on the indigenous community, and that is because of the issues they have faced for so long, and we need to be bringing them to the stage as well. This is something that needs to be brought full attention to, what they face in their communities, and I think this is a prime time when we have the full community of Reno showing up to see what’s going on beyond where they live.”
Annabelle is from Reno. She, her two children and husband were on the sixth floor of the parking garage looking down on the rally. Annabelle wore a pink and white adult-sized onesy outfit.
“I’m out here to show my two young daughters how important it is that there’s a risk of being a world that they don’t even have to live on anymore, but on top of that a world that could be filled with some ugly ugly stuff that I never thought in my lifetime I’d be fighting for them for,” Annabelle said. “So that’s why we’re here because everybody deserves free access to everything that humans need to thrive and survive, all of us as humans.”
Hear an interview with Annabelle …
Annabelle said the Women’s Marches and subsequent political victories in 2018 give her hope, and she wants to share the feeling.
“No matter how small you may feel, your voice matters when there are a million other people behind you.”
Sarah Peters is a Democrat from Reno and a newly elected Assemblywoman representing Nevada’s District 24. Peters addressed the crowd and afterward in an interview said the Women’s March movement has been a catalyst for political success.
“Huge, this is huge,” Peters said. “This has been one of the cohesive forces I think that has led to the place we’re in today politically.”
Hear an audio interview with Assemblywoman Sarah Peters …
We asked Assemblywoman Peters if the Women’s March movement was in some measure responsible for her successful first time run at political office.
“There are a lot of things that come together during election cycles, but I definitely think that peoples’ interest level in women in power and decision making positions is really significant in the last election cycle.”
We asked Peters about the level of Native American participation this year’s Women’s March Reno.
“I’ve been working with tribal governments for the last five years. I really love working with them,” Peters stated. “You see so much potential and opportunity to make significant changes in working with those communities. The way those communities think is very different, and i think it is something worth adopting and considering as we more forward in the Legislature but also across the country.”
The following images are of signs at the 2019 Women’s March Reno.