Fargo’s women march rallied women to rise up

Meghan Arbegast | Photo courtesy
Marchers cheered and waved signs in the air as they walked down campus.

This year’s women march encouraged women to stand up against the odds

On March 7, students and community members gathered in the Great Plains Ballroom of the Memorial Union for the fourth annual Women’s March. Though the march was originally planned to take place on Jan. 31 with the national Women’s March, it was rescheduled due to weather.

The theme of this year’s march was “women rising” as rally speakers discussed reproductive rights, transgender rights and women running for office. All of the speakers motivated the audience to fight for their rights and go vote.

Karla Rose Hanson, a representative for District 44, is an advocate for reproductive rights as almost a year ago she challenged the two anti-abortion laws which were presented in the North Dakota legislature.

Hanson started the rally by discussing how reproductive rights are being threatened by the state and federal level. Hanson encouraged everybody to become political saying, “I urge each of you to take one more step in your advocacy journey.”

After Hanson spoke, Rebel Marie addressed the audience on transgender rights focusing on mental health and the high suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth in the community.

Marie rallied the audience saying, “It is time for us to march forward and find safety for all of us.”

Students and community members were able to volunteer during the event at one of the various community tables ranging from Planned Parenthood to the missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force table.

Heather Rogers, a community member volunteer, talked about whether she thinks women’s voices are being heard since the first Woman March four years ago.

“I think so,” Rogers said. “Social media is problematic in a lot of ways, but I think the fact that we have women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and strong women who are on social media who are providing a platform for other women, especially women of color and LGBTQ+, cause (their) voices were not heard.”

Becca Renslow, a volunteer with Planned Parenthood, talked about why she chose to volunteer.

“Planned Parenthood and women’s rights are insanely important, especially in today’s society, which as we know, is difficult sometimes,” Renslow said. “I think it’s important to get together as a community and support women.”

Renslow also talked about the accomplishments for women’s rights in the past year saying, “Definitely the expansion of knowledge with sexual education and how important that is.”

“A right isn’t a right if you don’t have access to it.”

– Sophia Maruska, student volunteer

When discussing the setbacks to women’s rights, Renslow mentioned legislation explaining it as, “The big push against us.”

Sophia Maruska and Joseph Tillotson, both student volunteers, added more accomplishments to women’s rights in the past year.

“Definitely the ‘Me Too’ movement and the ‘I Believe Survivors’,” Maruska said, discussing Brett Kavanaugh and how more people are listening to survivors of sexual assault.

When thinking about the set-backs towards women’s rights, Maruska mentioned the cuts to abortion funding leading to a threat to reproductive rights saying, “A right isn’t a right if you don’t have access to it.”

Throughout the rally, a lot was mentioned about how diverse this year’s presidential election was. While this year’s presidential election has had the highest number of female candidates than any other election, Elizabeth Warren was the last female to drop out of the race ending her campaign on March 5.

Maruska and Tillotson talked about how the democratic candidates are now narrowed down to two white males and what that says about our country.

Tillotson said that most people have a “safe choice” saying, “People are used to seeing a white man,” adding, “that doesn’t mean it’s right.”

After the rally, participants took to the sidewalks carrying signs and chanting “Rise up,” as the crowd was met with honks and waves from passerby’s showing their support.

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