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Frustration Over Shutdown Fuels Third Wichita Women's March

Hundreds of demonstrators braved the cold Saturday afternoon for the third annual Wichita Women’s March and rally downtown.


The theme of the gathering was “Claim Your Voice.” A variety of issues were addressed at the event, including domestic violence, immigration rights, police brutality and equal representation in government.


Due to the snow and ice, march coordinators decided to move the party indoors two days before the event. Instead of marching from the Keeper of the Plains to rally at City Hall — as they have done the past two years — participants marched from City Hall to Wave, where speakers energized the crowd with political calls to action.



While the reasons for rallying have remained much the same, the context of the march has shifted through the years, since it began in 2017. The nearly month-long partial federal government shutdown over the southern border wall stalemate added fuel to this year's event.


“No hate, no wall, you have to pay for our work,” the crowd chanted with Guadalupe Magdaleno, an immigration rights advocate and executive director of Sunflower Community Action in Wichita. Magdaleno flew in from Washington, D.C., to speak at the event.


“We have to speak loud. We have to take action," she said. “Today is not all. Coming [to the rally], yes, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s only one day. This fight is for the long run.”


Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly's election last November also helped motivate people to rally.


“We’ve got to get women more involved,” said Mary Knecht, operations chair of Women for Kansas, which advocates for more women in public office.


This was Knecht’s third year attending the event. “Especially now that we’ve got a female governor, we need to support her," she said.


Renee Duxler, a social worker and executive director of the Douglas Design District, also spoke at the rally. She's also a former candidate for the Sedgwick County Commission.


“What I want women to know," she told the crowd, "is that you’re already enough.”


Ascha Lee is an assistant with KMUW's Engagement team and an intern with the KMUW News Lab. Follow her on Twitter @aschalee. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.