The Reno Women’s March took a second turn as a virtual event for its sixth year Saturday, Jan. 22. The nearly two-hour compilation of speakers, poetry and music was pre-recorded and streamed on YouTube and Facebook by Northern Nevada Marches Forward (NNMF), a new nonprofit focused on diversity and social change.
The event kicked off with a focus on women’s rights–specifically the ongoing fight for reproductive rights–highlighted in short speeches by Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen. The timing was right.
Saturday was the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which many advocates say is threatened by a new Texas law and the Supreme Court’s upcoming hearing on the case.
“Never stop raising your voice. At the end of the day, we need to ensure each of us does our part.”
The short segments that were edited together took a turn from there to cover a vast range of topics that merged together in an extravaganza of intersectional feminism.
Intersectionality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”
Organizers were intent on highlighting the many ways that women are challenged in society, while also highlighting the intersection where they all meet–as women. This year’s theme was “More Unites Us Than Divides Us.”
“Intersectional feminism is why you’ll see Planned Parenthood in spaces such as environmental and mining justices spaces, in racial and immigrant spaces, in LGBTQ spaces and housing justice spaces,” said Jas Margarita Tobon, an organizer for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. “None of this begins and ends with abortion rights.”
Elements of spirituality came from Tribal leaders including Charlotte Harry and Cheryl Johnson, who danced, read poetry and shared stories while advocating for protection of sacred land and missing and murdered indigenous women.
Nevada’s First Lady Kathy Sisolak spoke of identity, heritage and culture along with the need for greater support of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who have seen increased aggression from others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sisolak urged women to “collectively fight for the equality we rightfully deserve…Never stop raising your voice. At the end of the day, we need to ensure each of us does our part.”
The remainder of the event featured speakers covering topics as diverse as LGBTQIA communities, environmentalism, bridge-building and open-mindedness, voting rights, health equity and education.
MJ Ubando, a local educator and co-founder of Empower Nevada Teachers, delivered a speech on the stresses of being an educator both before and during the pandemic.
Teachers are overwhelmingly women, Ubando said. Teaching is her passion but also a struggle with many educators enduring extreme emotional stress.
“Last year I struggled so much that I made myself sick, literally. I got shingles at 32,” Ubando said. “Despite my doctor blaming my illness on intense stress, I blamed myself and my bad habits…instead of recognizing that being overworked enabled these habits and made me sick.
“To be ‘cut out’ for teaching is to be conditioned to an abusive relationship that manipulates you away from your own needs and your own rights by guilting you to say ‘it’s best for students,’” she said.
Commenters lit up at Ubando’s speech calling teachers heroes and first responders.
“Not surprised our teachers struggle with health issues caused by stress. Can’t express how much I appreciate what they do,” wrote Heidi Howe.
NNMF Chair Jackie Shelton said the virtual format wasn’t ideal, but it was an opportunity to create conversation.
“We know that three to five minutes isn’t nearly long enough to cover these important subjects,” she said.
Her organization plans to host regular virtual events throughout the year to expand on the topics covered, and quarterly “What Can I Do?” events to spur involvement.
The first “What Can I Do?” event is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. Details will be posted online at https://northernnevadamarchesforward.org/.
Watch the full 2022 Virtual Reno Women’s March here: