FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — New Fairfield's Peggy Kiely -- along with two of her daughters and her 8-year-old granddaughter — are traveling this week to Washington, D.C. — but not for the reason they had intended.
When Kiely booked her flight to D.C. nearly a year ago, attending a women’s march was the furthest thing from her mind.
"My daughters and I were planning to watch the first woman president being sworn in. We had thought that this would be a historic event for all of us to watch together, in person,” she said in a phone interview.
"But when our candidate did not win, we decided to hold onto our reservations and attend the march instead.”
The Women’s March on Washington on Saturday has a goal of championing women’s rights, democracy and justice. Tens of thousands of people from across the country are expected to descend on the nation's capital to take part in the event. It will consist of a rally with nationally known advocates, artists, entertainers and others, was organized in response to the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on Friday.
Kiely said she hopes the event will be a call to women “to mobilize and speak with a collective voice against discrimination in human rights, as well as the rights of immigrants, women, Muslims and the handicapped.
"I am fearful that some of the rights that we have worked so hard to gain in this country might be lost during this administration," she said.
Kiely said she's not viewing the march as a protest, but instead as a call to action.
"There is so much apathy in our country. We have come to take some of our rights for granted. We forget at times how much work and how many lives were dedicated to the cause of the freedoms that we now enjoy," she said.
This is not the first time Kiely has participated in a march. In the late 1960s, while in college and dating her now-husband, she demonstrated for civil rights on the Boston Common. She also participated in anti-war marches during Vietnam.
“I feel a voice calling me that I heard years ago,” said Keily, who is now 68.
Thousands of others from Connecticut are expected to attend the march as well, with over 60 buses organized to take participants from the Nutmeg State to D.C.
Erin Badillo, who is also a New Fairfield resident, is taking a bus out of Danbury.
Her primary motivation “is to bring attention to the fact that the misogynistic and hateful rhetoric that was circulated during the presidential campaign is unacceptable," Badillo said.
“This march represents an opportunity for women of all nationalities and backgrounds to come together as a positive voice for progress. Personally, I am hoping to meet other like-minded women. I want to be a positive voice after so much negativity," she said.
Ashley Gaudiano of Trumbull, who is attending the event with friends from Bridgeport and Trumbull, said the march is a sign for her to become more politically active.
“I do nonprofit work and have always been involved in human rights," said Gaudiano, who works as an attorney in communications strategy for nonprofits. This is a time for taking a stand, not just expressing feelings, she said.
"People use social media a lot and do a lot of talking and not a lot of action. I think people should make the time to get down there and march," Gaudiano said.
"As a healthy young woman with two small children, I don't feel like I should sit back and be quiet right now," said Gaudiano, who is 30, and has a 1- and a 3-year-old.
“I think the best thing we can all do is to keep standing up for whatever it is we believe in, no matter which side of the aisle we are on. We have to educate ourselves and we have to engage. It's the only way we can hold our government accountable.”