Angela Miller, a Eugene resident, marched through the streets with her 6-year-old daughter, Banjo, on her shoulders as it started to rain.
“I have three girls, and I just think it’s good for them to know that not everyone has had this freedom, but also that we don’t have a lot of freedoms right now. It could be worse, but it also could be better,” Miller said.
Miller said marching made her feel like she was a part of something.
The third-annual womxn’s march, spelled with an ‘x’ to represent intersectionality, the interconnectedness of race, class and gender as it relates to feminism, made its way through downtown Eugene on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 19.
The national women’s march started in 2017 on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration as a protest against Trump’s history of misogynistic comments and actions.
This year’s march marked the lowest attendance of Eugene’s march in its three-year history. Eugene Police estimated a total of 2,000 marchers — much lower than the estimated 10,000 marchers in 2017.
The National Organization for Women’s Willamette Valley chapter organized the march with help from the Democratic Party of Lane County.
President of NOW’s Willamette Valley chapter, Monica Olsen, said her team had five weeks to plan the march and that the time constraint affected their ability to promote the event.
She also said the spelling change from ‘women’ to ‘womxn’ may have made it harder for people to hear about the march through Facebook.
Olsen said she wanted to create an environment for all women and female-identifying people to feel welcome and represented.
“Feminism can’t be feminism without intersectionality,” Olsen said. “There are certain issues that don’t extend to the white feminist. They can go around with their white privilege in society and not be targeted just because of their skin color.”
At 10 a.m., an hour-long rally began at the Wayne L. Morse federal courthouse before the march commenced with performances from Soromundi — Eugene’s Lesbian Choir, the protest-dance group Rise Dance Resist and the Raging Grannies, a protest group comprised of older women in the community.
Linda Ague, member of the Raging Grannies, said, “We’re concerned about the generation of our kids and grandkids. We don’t want them to think we didn't notice and did nothing and left them a mess.”
Olsen made remarks to the audience about the event and how the message of intersectionality is an important one.
“Oppression and social injustice cast a wide net. It is insidious and ugly and far reaching,” Olsen said. “It demands we cast an even wider net to counter and resist it’s dangerous and destructive reach.”
Eugene’s mayor, Lucy Vinis, read a statement from Congressman Peter DeFazio who was not at the event. DeFazio donated the sound system for the march so people throughout Eugene could “hear what democracy sounds like.”
Olsen said she wanted to include the voices of local women who were elected into office during the national “women’s wave.” Julie Fahey, Oregon State Representative, and Heather Buch, Lane County Commissioner, spoke at the rally.
“To me, this march isn’t just about resisting Donald Trump, it’s about building a movement where the voices of women and the minority community lead the way in this country,” Fahey said.
Senator Ron Wyden was present at the march but did not speak at the rally.
“I’m just here to make sure people know that I’m with them,” Wyden said in an interview with the Emerald.
The rally ended with a speech from Tasha Briquet, who worked in Portland to help re elect Governor Kate Brown, who spoke about the importance of intersectional feminism and representing all women in these marches.
The marchers were equipped with signs that read messages including, “Until they get it right, we march,” “We march for womxn,” “Women’s rights are human rights,” and “Empower the women around you.”
The march made its way through the streets of downtown Eugene and ended outside Whirled Pies at the corner of West 8th Avenue and Charnelton Street.
Samba Ja, a Brazilian percussion ensemble, played music at the end of the march. Attendees began to dance around the band and wave their signs in the air.
Sisters Sarah and Katie Diess, aged 14 and 19 respectively, said they came to the march with their friend Alyssa Malaw, 19, to inspire young women to use their voices and speak up.
“Women still aren’t being treated equally, economically or socially. Especially with Trump in office,” Sarah said. “We think now is the best time to stand up, speak our minds and show all the little girls out there they can be what they want to be and they can reach all their goals.”
Jenna Peden-Higgines, a Eugene resident, held a sign that read, “Girls just want to have fundamental rights.”
“It’s a play on the song, and it’s a big thing in politics today where women aren’t getting the representation they need and their bodies are restricted by the government,” Peden-Higgines said. “I’m here to show that we need to be able to have our own choices and we need to march for what we believe in.”
Olsen said that even when Trump leaves office, there will still be more work for women activists.
“We’re trying to set the tone that these women’s marches don’t always have to be about running around wearing a bunch of pink and it being all about anti-Trump,” Olsen said. “Once Trump’s gone the work is still going to be there.”