On March 4, 2014, writer and political advocate Pat Lemarche presented a lecture in Laird Hall titled “Poverty, Politics and Paradigms: The Changing Role of Women in Government and the Economy” as part of National Women’s History Month. Director of Alumnae/i Relations Marybeth Famulare introduced Lemarche as a personal friend and an important figure in the women’s equality movement and the war on poverty.
“Pat Lemarche is an amazing woman that has a passion for speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Famulare.
Lemarche’s political career includes a nomination from the Green Party for vice president in 2004 and two campaigns for governor of Maine in 1998 and 2006. Although she was never elected, she credits the experience as the catalyst for her current work.
“I heard nobody talking about the things that mattered to me: mommies, veterans, the poor,” said Lemarche. “I lived in homeless shelters for weeks while campaigning. I learned that we do not understand the shelter system. Children, people with jobs stay there. Any one of us could be in that situation.”
After her political campaigns, Lemarche was approached by Major Devault of the Carlisle Salvation Army. He offered her a position at his organization, which allowed Lemarche to become hands-on in her efforts to help the poor. She realized that in doing so, she was also advocating for women’s rights.
“Poverty is a woman’s issue. Every issue is a woman’s issue. When you look around at the world’s mess and see that as a woman you have no money, no power—you realize that these problems are not being caused by women,” said Lemarche. “Einstein said that you can’t fix a problem with the tools that caused it; women should be in charge.”
Elizabeth Heyer ’14 thought the topic of the lecture was relevant today and even to some Wilson students.
“We tend to look at the tuition and barns and lovely campus and pass over the fact that many students are here on scholarships and some have come from households below the poverty line. I thought it was a very moving call-to-action lecture,” said Heyer. “I was disappointed that more students did not attend.”
Christina Gonzalez ’16 said that she was also disappointed after Lemarche’s lecture—but for different reasons.
“I didn’t agree with a political candidate, regardless of their political party, being so unprofessional. Her lecture was not effectively prepared,” said Gonzalez. “I do know about the gender gap in the political arena, and Lemarche is an example of why women are not taken seriously.”
Lemarche finished her lecture by urging women to find role models and to become ambitious in their pursuits.
“I do think that there are role models out there for women to emulate. We must seek them out and get involved in these issues. Women must get involved in making legislation to see real change,” said Lemarche.