Time to 'rise up and leverage our privilege,' Woodstock Women's March attendees told

Anna Buckingham of Crystal Lake said she had not planned to attend a Women’s March held in the Woodstock Square on Saturday, but her 5-year-old daughter, Carolina – who had read about women’s suffrage – had other plans.

“She has a book about women’s suffrage so she wanted to make sure everyone gets out to vote,” Buckingham said.

The pair joined about 200 other attendees in below-freezing weather for Woodstock’s Women’s March on the Square, 121 W. Van Buren St., which took place in coordination with numerous other sister marches around the globe to commemorate the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

This year’s march was co-sponsored by the McHenry County Chapter of the National Organization for Women and Women’s March–McHenry County. Organizers of the event said they feel that the 2020 election may be the most important one in a lifetime.

“In 2020, we are not falling,” McHenry County NOW President Anna Gifford said during the march. “We are rising up.”

Ruth Scifo, spokeswoman for Women’s March–McHenry County, said one of the reasons for the march was to address intersectionality, which means that everyone belongs to or is identified with different groups, whether it be by gender, race, marital status or other factors. However, the interconnected nature of these social classifications may create systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

“Some of them carry burdens like discrimination, [and] some of them carry privileges,” Scifo said. “It doesn’t matter if I asked for those privileges. They’re just built into the system, and that system hurts women, it hurts men, it hurts children and it’s past time that we, particularly us white women, rise up and leverage our privilege.”

Although three years have passed since the historic 2017 Women’s March – which saw millions of women stand to support gender equality, civil rights and other issues they felt would be threatened after the inauguration of President Donald Trump – attendees of Woodstock’s march had different opinions about the progress that has been made.

Buckingham said it was great to show solidarity at the march, but she also would like to see a more concrete plan of ensuring voter rights and keeping women and other voters informed before casting their ballots.

Kate Katrubis of Lake in the Hills said progress has been made through the election of a lot more women in public office, which has helped to flip historically red districts in Congress to blue, a reference made to Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

Russell Foszcz of Richmond commended the election of more women and minority candidates but said there is a lot more that can be done about issues such as immigration and climate change. Therefore, Foszcz said it is critical for McHenry County’s congressional officeholders to be re-elected.

Leading into the 2020 elections, Kutrubis said it’s going to be important to stay on top of neighborhood canvassing and phone banking.

McHenry County Regional Office of Education Superintendent Leslie Schermerhorn attended the march and encouraged marchers to vote.

Schermerhorn also displayed McHenry County’s voting sticker design for the 2020 elections, which honors the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove; Laura Welch, president of the Illinois State National Organization for Women; and Amanda Garcia of the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. While scheduled to speak at the event, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, was not in attendance.

A few Democratic candidates for state office also were in attendance, including McHenry County Board member Suzanne Ness, who is running for the 66th Illinois House seat held by state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, and Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager, who is running for the 63rd Illinois House seat held by state Rep. Steven Reick.

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