IDAHO FALLS – About 200 people gathered in the plaza at the Idaho Falls Public Library Saturday morning for the third annual Women’s March.
The theme for this year’s event centered around empowering women.
“It’s a really nice way for women to connect with each other, show solidarity with each other and also be inspired by some great speakers,” event organizer Miranda Marquit tells EastIdahoNews.com.
The event began at 10 a.m. with a prayer and remarks from various people in the community. The March was led by an all-female color guard which went across the Broadway Bridge, over to the roundabout by the falls and back to the library.
Following the march, Idaho Falls High School student Grace Burgert addressed the crowd about what she referred to as the “gender battle” in the United States. Burgert has been involved in various local political campaigns and was selected to speak to help represent the rising generation.
“Our society seems to suffer from systematic male aggression characterized by the notion that a boy must grow into a John Wayne archetype, stoic and heroic,” Burgert said. “We condition boys to be strong, rather than sensitive, tough, rather than tolerant, violent, rather than vulnerable.”
Burgert said women also judge each other on superficial things. These trends must be stopped as soon as possible, she said.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper also spoke at the event. She said a problem that creates division is “the oversimplified either/or fallacy” of everything that happens in the world perpetuated by providers and consumers of the media.
“There is nothing in my day job that can be captured adequately in a headline or in a 20-second news story,” Casper said. “As citizens, we receive only that much info all the time and use it to draw our conclusions. It compels us to think You’re either with me or against me, and that’s not productive.”
Anger in governance and public discourse is also part of the problem, according to Casper.
“Anger has power, but if it’s put out prematurely or unthoughtfully, anger has the power to destroy,” said Casper. “We have to get past the point in this country (where our anger remains unchecked). We have to get to forgiveness and build bridges so that key conversations can happen.”
Women, in general, tend to promote collaboration and conversation in leadership roles, Casper says, and are poised to create change in the community and nation.
“If you’re a woman and you’re ready to serve, ready to transform your anger into civil action, and can engage others in civil conversation, then I would ask you to consider yourselves empowered.”
Hailee Davenport was among those who attended the event. She feels there are challenges in eastern Idaho with gender equality and diversity, and now feels inspired to actively participate in the conversation.
“It has to be an everyday act, talking to the women and men in your life, and putting forth your narrative, your ideas and your perspective so there (can be) more variation in people’s viewpoints,” Davenport says.
Marquit says she’s seen an upward tick in the number of women who get involved politically because of these annual marches.
“It was very rewarding last year to see us roll from the women’s march into people volunteering at election campaigns, especially with Prop. 2 (Medicaid expansion),” she said. That was a big thing. We had a lot of people do a bunch of door-knocking and gather signatures (in support of Medicaid expansion).”