In Its Third Year, Womxn's March on Idaho Represented Women of All Passions 

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Harrison Berry

A Saturday morning light drizzle didn't keep thousands of people from the Idaho Statehouse  Jan. 19, all gathered for the third-annual Womxn's March on Idaho to celebrate and promote activism. As in years past, this year's guest speakers emphasized action in the face of injustice and empowerment in the day-to-day lives of women.

"This is a speech about the power of a woman," said former Obama White House Press Secretary Jennifer Palmieri, the Idaho march's keynote speaker. "It starts with a moment of despair."

Palmieri talked about waking up the day after the 2016 election to the knowledge that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States. Like the many women who  participated in the first Women's March, on day after Trump's inauguration, Palmieri said she felt the newly sworn in president's prior comments and behaviors toward women made him unfit for office.

click to enlarge - Jennifer Palmieri was the keynote speaker. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Jennifer Palmieri was the keynote speaker.
The first Women's March, and each since then, have been reminders, said Palmieri, that the overall progress made toward giving all women autonomy and rights on equal measure with men has been, and will long be, a day-to-day fight.

Saturday was Aron Bayreuther's first time attending a Womxn's March. A transplant from Vermont, she's now a teacher at a Garden City charter school. For her, attending in Boise was a matter of principle.

"I'm really excited to be part of a larger community that is a Women's March," she said.

Erin McKenna, on the other hand, has attended all three marches, this time bringing her son Colby with her.

"Having kids see what you're passionate about is really important for them to grow as humans," said Bayreuther.

From a makeshift stage on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse, representatives of the LGBTQ community, Native Americans and people of color shared their own stories. Each personal journey cemented an importance of values of activism, inclusion and perseverance. Sonia Galaviz was one of those speakers. A fifth-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Boise, she has taught for 15 years in Title 1 schools while continuing her own higher education. Galaviz said her father was a migrant worker from the Mexican state of Jalisco who moved to Arizona in search of a better life.

"One generation away from a field worker picking cotton, I'm now getting a doctorate in education," she said.

click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
Edith Gonzalez and Yasmin Estrella, both Boise State University students hailing from Rexburg, said Saturday's speeches were inspiring, and the march's program inclusive.

"I feel empowered, a little emotional," said Gonzalez.  "[The event] targeted everybody. I liked hearing about [the speakers'] experiences."

"I feel like there was more diversity than other people might have expected," Estrella added.

Speaking from the podium, 17-year-old Percephone Bias discussed her owned experiences as a transgender Idahoan: being called a "tranny" by some while others deliberately misidentified her gender in public. Those experiences, she said, were humiliating. When Victoria's Secret's chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, made a statement about why transgender women aren't in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, saying they weren't part of his brand's "fantasy," Bias said it got her thinking: "How long? How long until I thought I was worthy?" she asked herself.

"Well, I'm worth the fantasy," she said. "Ask: 'When? When can I take action?'"
click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
Nationally, this year's Women's March had been overshadowed by controversy over questions of whether it had been inclusive enough of the LGBTQ community and women of color. In Boise, the organizers of this year's demonstration ran afoul of a city-run event planning committee, and did not obtain a road closure permit in enough time that would have enabled an actual march. But after Saturday's rally, organizers Maddie Oppenheimer and Kylie Casper, both high school students, were elated with the event.

"We want to bring so many people into our group," Casper said. "That's what makes this so powerful."

"Bringing those people into the event and having them represented—that's the best way," Oppenheimer added.

State Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise), a speaker at each of the women's marches, put it a bit more poetically Saturday:

"We strategize, we organize and we deliver. ...We stand here today a mighty militia," she said. "We don't have the luxury of building movements that are not intersectional."
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