Songs and Stories event pushes for women’s rights

Local News

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A local singer-songwriter took her push for women’s rights to Facebook live.

It’s harder for activists and artists to gather large crowds during the coronavirus, so singer and songwriter Kristen Lems explains why she wouldn’t let social distancing interrupt her important message.

“My particular program title was about the Women’s Movement in Champaign-Urbana between 1973 to 1983.”

Kristen Lems founded the ‘National Women’s Music Festival’ in 1974 to encourage more women to break into a music industry dominated mostly by men.

“It was really fun being in Central Illinois to have women coming in from all over the country with their own points of view and their own musical style too,” says Lems.

In the 70s and 80s, her women’s rights activism took her to rallies and protests, usually outdoors. In the era of COVID-19, she’s taking her message to an online audience instead.

Lems has seen major milestones in the push for women’s rights, but she says the fight is far from over.

“Being able to control our fertility with birth control and the rights to safe, legal abortions has been very important for women to move forward, to have our bodily integrity. To decide when and where we would have a child.”

She also called for an end to discrimination against women in the workplace and better benefits for working mothers.

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