The sixth annual Idaho Women’s March is set to take place this weekend on the steps of the Idaho Capitol. But this year, it’ll look a little different.
Led by a group of high school students, hundreds of people are expected to attend the march, which starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Capitol building.
In years past, the event typically involves a march through the streets of downtown under a police presence. The organizers this time opted to remain on the steps and surrounding sidewalk of the Capitol building to ensure everyone is comfortable, including demonstrators who are afraid of police, high school junior and organizer Petra Hoffman said.
“High school students are leading this year, and since we all come from different backgrounds, there has been a lot of dialogue about the march,” high school senior Sneha Sharma said in a press release. Sharma is also a St. Luke’s Children’s Advisory Board youth representative and Climate Justice League organizer. “We aim to represent more women and to always learn from each other.”
The change means the Idaho State Police will be in charge of monitoring the event instead of the Boise Police Department.
“Law enforcement creates fear for some people, but it also gives us the ability to march further into closed down streets,” Hoffman told the Idaho Statesman. “So what we landed on is, we’re going to have legal observers present, and then we’re just going to march the block around the Capitol building on the sidewalk there.”
Legal observers are individuals who represent civilian human rights agencies and attend public demonstrations to monitor and report any unlawful or improper behavior by law enforcement personnel.
Voting, abortion access among key issues to highlight, organizers say
Organizers of the march aren’t yet sure how many people will attend, but they expect at least several hundred and hope for it to reach the thousands. They also expect a counter-protest during the morning of the march, but Hoffman said they’re not concerned about it.
The march will highlight a number of issues that organizers of the march want to advocate for, such as getting women registered to vote ahead of the Idaho primary elections in May.
“I think making sure we have people that don’t stand for extremism, that are ready to talk about unity, and that are ready to work with everybody living in our state,” Hoffman said. “That’s going to depend on women voting.”
Organizers at the march also want to send another message, Hoffman said — that women should have a choice over their own bodies, whether it’s access to abortions or gender-affirming procedures.
“Intersectionality means redefining what a woman looks like, and making sure that queer people are included in that,” Hoffman said. “Which means talking about racism, and talking about the way feminism and racism intertwine.”
Speakers to include Boise City Council member
Boise City Council member Lisa Sanchez, who is the first woman of color to serve on the council, will also attend the march.
“I am so grateful to the young people who are generous with their time and talent to help shape our community now,” Sanchez said. “Their energy, enthusiasm and hopeful approach to the work fills my cup. They help me stay positive about what our future can be.”
Sanchez will one of a number of speakers throughout the course of the day. Other people who will be speaking at the march include:
Yvonne Shen, high school freshman and co-founder of Idaho Asian American Pacific Islander Youth Alliance;
Lisa Sanchez, first woman of color to serve on Boise City Council;
Kamryn Swenson, 17-year-old musician and teacher at Boise Rock School;
Rosaura Albizo, high school junior and leader for Positive Change Idaho;
Emily Walton, co-founder of The Idaho 97 Project;
Sneha Sharma, high school senior, youth representative on the St. Luke’s Children’s Advisory Board and organizer for Climate Justice League;
and Kallee Weisel, Student Equity event planner and Inclusive Excellence Student Council member at Boise State University.