Fox Valley activists organizing Women's March in Geneva

  • Leah Beck, left, and Mary O'Connor of We Can Lead Change-Fox Valley are part of a team organizing the Fox Valley Women's March, scheduled for Jan. 19 in downtown Geneva.

    Leah Beck, left, and Mary O'Connor of We Can Lead Change-Fox Valley are part of a team organizing the Fox Valley Women's March, scheduled for Jan. 19 in downtown Geneva. Courtesy of Mary O'Connor

  • Mary O'Connor, a St. Charles businesswoman, launched a local huddle after participating in the 2017 Women's March in Chicago. The group, We Can Lead Change-Fox Valley, is now working with the Kane County Coalition to organize a march and rally Jan. 19 in downtown Geneva.

    Mary O'Connor, a St. Charles businesswoman, launched a local huddle after participating in the 2017 Women's March in Chicago. The group, We Can Lead Change-Fox Valley, is now working with the Kane County Coalition to organize a march and rally Jan. 19 in downtown Geneva. Courtesy of Mary O'Connor

 
 
Updated 1/4/2019 4:46 PM

Energized by a wave of activism sparked by the Women's March movement, leaders of a pair of Fox Valley grass-roots organizations are hoping to build upon the momentum at a local level.

Geneva will join hundreds of communities across the globe hosting demonstrations Jan. 19 aimed at promoting women's rights and spurring social change. The Fox Valley Women's March will take place through the city's downtown after a 10 a.m. rally at the Kane County Courthouse, 100 S. Third St., organizer Mary O'Connor said.

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With the consolidated election this spring, she said, organizers hope the Geneva march will encourage residents to be politically engaged in their own communities. The event is being spearheaded by the Kane County Coalition and We Can Lead Change-Fox Valley, a local group formed out of inspiration from the 2017 Women's March in Chicago.

"We're very excited to be celebrating yet again equality, democracy and inclusion," said O'Connor, founder of We Can Lead Change. "Our mission is to march local and vote local."

Women's March Chicago organizers opted out of a 2019 march after holding January events the past two years, as well as a "March to the Polls" in October. Instead, the group is promoting an "Operation Activation" campaign, urging marchers to get involved locally.

Without the Chicago event, leaders of the Geneva march wanted to provide an opportunity for area residents to still participate in the movement, O'Connor said. They hope to draw people of all demographics from throughout the suburbs to promote a message of unity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We want to be part of the global moment in time that advances inclusion," O'Connor said. "While we certainly support that Women's March Chicago made the investment in October, we feel there is pent-up demand to continue to mark the moment in time."

The Fox Valley Women's March came together quickly over the past several weeks, as volunteers worked with Geneva officials to finalize logistics, O'Connor said. The city council is expected to vote next week on street closures for the march.

Organizers now are raising money, seeking sponsorships, promoting the event and securing guest speakers for the rally, O'Connor said. It's too early to tell how big of a crowd to expect, she said.

Other Women's March events in the area include a rally in Woodstock and marches in New Lenox and Rockford. The Geneva event is not affiliated with the national Women's March organization, which has faced recent criticism over accusations of anti-Semitism.

For more information about the Fox Valley Women's March, visit the We Can Lead Change Facebook page or call (630) 338-8511, ext. 222.

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