Did you know: The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as suffrage, on Aug. 18, 1920.
This means 2020 is the 100th anniversary of this milestone; in part dedicated to a celebration of suffrage, the 4th annual Reno Women’s March happened Saturday, Jan. 18.
According to the March website, “The mission of Women’s March is to harness the power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through training, outreach programs and events.”
Encouraging and empowering diverse groups
A nod to the importance of diversity and involvement were clearly in focus during the event, both of which attracted one of the first groups to sign up in support: Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada, whose Executive Director Heidi Howe says was involved to send a strong message.
“The focus of Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada’s involvement in the Women’s March is to encourage independent thought and civic engagement,” she says. “All points of view are embraced, as all are charged to ‘be a sister to all Girl Scouts.’”
Howe notes that the Girl Scout and suffrage movements happened almost simultaneously.
“GSSN’s involvement in the Women’s March kicks off a patch program celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage,” she says. “We want our girls to learn how our rights only came to fruition because of strong, tenacious and brilliant women who made difficult decisions and risked greatly. As they were the foundation of our current system, our girls will be the foundation of our future. Our goal is to have fun while learning about our community, state and country.”
Learn how to get involved
More than a march, this year participants were able to engage with community organizations and political candidates from different parties, to get ideas about how they can help and become involved throughout the year.
Janet Serial, Chair of the Black Caucus of the Democratic Party of Washoe County, participated as a representative of Washoe County Black Caucus and the NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch. She was on the planning committee for the march and believes the event offered universal appeal.
“I think this is a pivotal moment and time in history for women in our country and globally, as well as those in my beloved state of Nevada,” she says. “I believe the theme ‘When Women Thrive We All Thrive…It’s Time,’ was chosen because it resonates with everyone and speaks to the core of not only where we, as women have been; how far we’ve come; but, more importantly, provides inspiration for where we’re going.”
Serial adds that she is particularly proud of women in general — and black women and other women of color specifically — about their ability to effect change in society, noting that participation in a march such as this can continue to show women’s strength in the community.
“As a retired state worker who worked as a public servant in Nevada for 30 years, the truth is: It’s people who make change happen,” she says. “This Reno Women’s March advances our community by providing a venue for community members, nonprofits, and others who advocate for civil rights and social justice, and governmental entities alike to network, thus affording community members the opportunity to learn about and get involved in and at whatever level each person is comfortable.”
Leading the charge
Reflecting its increasing commitment to diversity, the University of Nevada, Reno Office of Diversity and Inclusion was a sponsor of the Reno Women’s March.
“We see our direct involvement as part of the efforts to develop and strengthen the work of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which itself, is a new evolution at UNR,” says Eloisa Gordon-Mora, PhD, University Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She notes that the inauguration of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion during the current academic year is a testimony to UNR’s evolving commitment to enhanced inclusion and equity by creating a welcoming environment for all.
“Reno Women’s March is a moment of critical reflection for all of us to examine where we are as a society, particularly in this 100 Anniversary of the 19th Amendment,” Gordon-Mora adds.