women

Women’s march in Ann Arbor encourages people to vote, empower women

ANN ARBOR, MI — Dozens of people gathered at the University of Michigan Diag Saturday afternoon in an effort to encourage people to vote in the November election.



a crowd of people at a park: Dozens of women filled the University of Michigan Diag on Saturday, Oct. 17, for a women's march that encouraged people to vote in the November election.


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Dozens of women filled the University of Michigan Diag on Saturday, Oct. 17, for a women’s march that encouraged people to vote in the November election.

Nationwide, thousands rallied Saturday to urge people to elevate their voices and encourage people to vote in the Nov. 3 election. In Michigan, there were also marches held in Battle Creek, Flint, Kalamazoo and Petoskey.

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Ann Arbor event organizers Kristina Oberly, Alison Todak and Rachel Phillips said there was nothing organized in Ann Arbor, and they took it upon themselves to create the event, which included speeches from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; State Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township; Washtenaw County Commissioner Shannon Beeman; and State Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.

Oberly, Todak and Phillips created Shine & Rise, an organization supporting women and underrepresented groups working at tech companies in southeastern Michigan, and the march helped amplify the organization’s mission.

“We see this march as an extension of that mission, to be able to elevate and amplify women’s voices and make sure that all women’s voices are heard, but also that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s vote is counted in this election,” Oberly said.

On the Diag, women held signs with various messages about women’s reproductive rights, health care and empowering both women and men to vote. Many, including Warren, also carried envelopes with their ballots as the group marched to Ann Arbor City Hall after listening to speakers.

Giving people options to vote is one of the many reasons the group organized the march, Todak said.

“We want to make sure that the voter’s rights are upheld, and that we’re not suppressing the vote, eliminating options to vote,” Todak said.

Ann Arbor residents Bailey Reale and Beth Bodiya saw the march as an opportunity to stand up for what they believe in right in their own community. Bodiya added that people might not realize how much effort went into getting the rights that women have today.

“If we can help to show how important they are and how we can continue to work for them for the next generation and our current generation, it’s really important,” Bodiya said.

Voting in general is one of the most important things citizens can do and is more important than ever in the upcoming November election, Reale said. The duo were marching for all rights for women, but the two main topics were women’s reproductive rights and representation in government.

It was important for Bodiya to see female leaders like Dingell, Lasinski, Beeman and Warren in attendance, especially for aspiring future leaders.

“When you see people like you in a position of power and influence, that matters,” Bodiya said.

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