‘Inclusive for all women:’ Boise area students hold 6th Annual Idaho Women’s March

·3 min read

Petra Hoffman was 11 years old when they attended their first Women’s March. Now, at age 16, the high school junior is one of the leaders of the 2022 event.

“It really was the biggest mobilization of people I’d ever seen in Boise, and there was just such a sense of urgency around like people and women, and non-binary people coming together to like, really create a movement,” Hoffman said remembering their first march.

On Saturday a couple of hundred people — clutching homemade signs and embellished in buttons — braced the cold air and attended the sixth annual Idaho Women’s March at the Capitol building.

Demonstrator’s hold up signs in support of Women’s rights during Saturday’s sixth annual Women’s March.
Demonstrator’s hold up signs in support of Women’s rights during Saturday’s sixth annual Women’s March.

Along with Hoffman, other high school and junior high students were the main organizers and speakers for the march, signaling a significant difference from prior years.

“It’s the job of older women and white feminists to give the microphone and give the money so that young people and people of color can lead the way.” Hoffman said. “This (event) was an example of that.”

They told the Idaho Statesman on Saturday that in a series of phone calls they reached out to other young leaders who inspired them throughout the Boise area and were able to line up the day’s speakers.

The organizers communicated with past leaders, but Hoffman said some of the choices they made were choices older organizers wouldn’t have made — like the exclusion of the Boise Police Department.

Kamryn Swenson, 17, performs during Saturday’s sixth annual Idaho Women’s March at the Idaho State Capitol.
Kamryn Swenson, 17, performs during Saturday’s sixth annual Idaho Women’s March at the Idaho State Capitol.

“If we’re going to have a march that is open and inclusive for all women, all women need to feel safe here,” Hoffman told the Statesman.

Instead of Boise police, the Idaho State Police were in charge of monitoring the event, though the decision came with a trade-off as demonstrators weren’t able to march throughout downtown; instead, they circled the Capitol building.

Plan to attend the Idaho Women’s March this weekend? Here’s what to expect at the Capitol

In recent years criticism of the police has heightened throughout the nation as events such as the killing of George Floyd and the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor have strained relations between police and people of color.

Rosaura Albizo, a high school junior and speaker, spoke Saturday about the challenges women of color face and how people need to view the world through an intersectional lens, which means to acknowledge that a multitude of factors — including race, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, religion and more — allow some individuals privileges while others face discrimination.

Julia Ballenger, 28, and Lisa Hunter, 37, pose outside the Idaho State Capitol Saturday after the sixth annual Idaho Women’s March.
Julia Ballenger, 28, and Lisa Hunter, 37, pose outside the Idaho State Capitol Saturday after the sixth annual Idaho Women’s March.

“In a world where I wouldn’t be attacked in rural Idaho for being Hispanic, is a world where I want future generations to live in,” Albizo, a first-generation student, said during the event.

Over 16% of the hate crimes reported in 2020 were against Hispanic or Latino people, according to an annual report by Idaho State Police. This comes at a time when hate crimes across the Gem State are increasing overall, rising 42% since 2019.

In 2020, Idaho reported 54 hate crimes, compared to 38 in 2019, the Statesman previously reported.

Asian-American and junior high student Yvonne Shen, 14, told the Statesman on Saturday that in the fifth or sixth grade was her first “soapbox moment,” when she wanted to “scream at the world” after learning about climate change in class.

“There are problems in this world,” Shen said she remembered thinking, “and we need to work together to fix them.”

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