The morning after the 2016 presidential election was different for Colette and I, who are both in high school. We went to class that day distraught and concerned about the divisive rhetoric in our country and facing an uncertain future. It was this concern that motivated us to take action.
Together, we created People For Unity—a student-led organization in Boise focusing on creating intergenerational connections to work towards our need for gender equity, racial justice, economic justice, reproductive justice and environmental justice. Our Unity Rally, organized in just four days following the 2016 presidential election, brought in over 500 attendees. Riding the momentum from this rally, we took on the project of organizing the Women’s March on Idaho.
We are understandably frustrated by this election—especially since we are not yet old enough to vote. We have sometimes felt we hold little power to make changes regarding the political and social issues that we are passionate about. This is something that many young people feel—but we could not have been more wrong.
Through People for Unity, we have learned that students only 17- and 16-years-old can make a positive impact on their community and in government; that a little spunk, effort and enthusiasm goes a long way.
We hope the Women’s March on Idaho will spark intergenerational communications by providing a place for citizens of all ages to get involved in local, state and national politics. We want to convince both teens and adults to make their voices heard—outside of the Internet. (As Colette says: “It’s time to bring our ideas and beliefs into the real world.”)
We march on January 21 because complacency is no longer an option. It is not time to “keep calm and carry on”—it is time to stand up and change the world. We are marching for the protection of reproductive rights, environmental rights, the rights of marginalized groups. We are marching to have our voices heard.
In 2009, Idaho defunded its women’s commission. As of 2015, Idaho is ranked the 48th best state (or 2nd worst state) to live in on the basis of reproductive rights. It is ranked 50th for employment and earnings for women. These things can no longer go on—not in Idaho, not in the United States, not anywhere in the world. This march is only the first step towards unifying our communities to create change from the grassroots level up.