Despite the winter storm predictions this weekend, members from the Ball State community will be joining protesters gathering in downtown Indianapolis for the third consecutive year in support of women’s rights.

Women’s March on Washington - Indiana, the sister chapter of the one in Washington, D.C., will be having their anniversary march Saturday in Indianapolis.

The march will begin at 1 p.m. from the Monument Circle and attendees will march to the American Legion Mall, where the event will last until 3 p.m., according to the event’s Facebook page.

“We do expect less attendance this year simply because of the weather,” said Savannah Pearlman, chair of the march’s board of directors. “We are preparing ourselves and we are going to go on with it, you know — rain or shine or snow or no snow.”

According to its Facebook page, 5,932 people were “interested” in the event and 1,333 people marked themselves as “going.” In 2017, Indiana State Police estimated 4,500 to 5,000 attendees, a previous Daily News report states.

Apart from several individuals and organizations, attendees will also hear from the event’s keynote speaker, Shelly Fitzgerald, the guidance counselor from Roncalli High School in Indianapolis who was suspended for being in a same-sex marriage, the march’s press release states.

“She has [overcome] so much and she will continue to overcome so much throughout her life,” said Olivia DeSalvo, a senior communication studies major and member of the march’s youth empowerment committee.

Brenda Freedman, a member of the Jewish synagogue Congregation Shaarey Tefilla when it was vandalized with Nazi symbols last year, will also be speaking at the event, the press release states.

Addressing concerns about the controversies surrounding the national Women’s March leadership and anti-Semitism, Pearlman said the Indiana chapter categorically rejects any kind of hate and anti-Semitism, including the hate speech of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam minister.

“It is unfortunate that that discussion has been happening at the national level, but we, we don’t really see it as affecting what work we have to do in Indiana and our goals,” Pearlman said.

The theme of the march “Women’s Wave” is a reflection on how far they’ve come and looking forward to the work they have to do in Indiana to see some real change, Pearlman said.

“We certainly believe women’s rights are human rights but it is a convergence of all sorts of other inclusion issues,” Pearlman said. “We can’t look at them individually. Intersectional feminism requires that you look at them all together.”

Intersectional feminism, she said, is an understanding that different identities have different relations to the world around us.

“So I support a woman’s right to choose, I support Black Lives Matter, I support LGBTQ rights, etc.,” Pearlman said. “And I don’t feel that those values have been reflected for me politically in a local, state or national level.”

Rachael Smith, a women’s and gender studies instructor who took part in the first-ever march in Washington, D.C., and will be going to Indianapolis this year, said what inspired her to be part of the march was President Donald Trump and the uncertainty she felt as a woman and as a citizen of this country. 

“The reason I march is, quite frankly, every reason,” Smith said. “I believe in equality and when we don’t have it then we need to do what we can, whether it’s a march or what have you, to you know, to draw attention to whatever the issues are at the time.”

Immigration, pay for childcare and women’s reproductive rights were some of the issues Smith said motivated her to participate in the march.

“We make up 51 percent of the population, yet politically, economically, we are so undervalued in this country,” Smith said. “It’s important that everyone comes out if they are able under the current weather conditions, so that everyone comes out and shows support.”

Comprehensive sexual education, the stigma surrounding Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose are some issues that concern Hannah Souronis, a secondary English education sophomore who will be attending the march for the first time.

“I’m going to go to the women’s march because I have always been a feminist and I really believe in equality for women and freedom for women,” Souronis said. “And I feel really strongly about our current leadership and how [Trump] represents his feelings towards women.”

Souronis said she thinks the march is a huge opportunity for women, men and people of all gender identities to come together and support the female community, women’s freedom and each other in the current political climate.

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.