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Idaho kicks off commemoration of women’s right to vote

Idaho First Lady Teresa Little addresses the Idaho Women 100 Launch event in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho State Capital. Behind her is a historic photo of the legislators who changed the law. Photo by Rebecca Palmer

Idaho was the fourth state in the union to grant women the right to vote in 1896. Starting this month, leaders and organizations statewide will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the national right to vote in a series of events and commemorative projects.

At the “Idaho Women 100 Launch” event held at the state capital on Thursday, Idaho First Lady Teresa Little proclaimed March 28, 2019, as Idaho Women’s Day. She read the resolution on behalf of her husband, Gov. Brad Little.

The state will hold celebrations of the Idaho vote to amend the U.S. Constitution on Aug. 18, said Janet Gallimore, state historic preservation officer and executive director of the Idaho Historical Society.

There will also be a commemorative book, statue and film to celebrate Idaho women’s contributions across the ages, announced Michael Faison, executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

Ongoing TV series features Idaho women from history

Idaho Public Television filmed Thursday’s event live, and it is available to rewatch online. The public television network used the kickoff event to feature its television series,”Idaho Experience,” which highlights individuals who demonstrated a “fierce, independent attitude that could break through the stereotypes of the day,” according to Marcia Franklin, host and producer.

She gave the assembled audience a sneak peek of an upcoming episode, “Taking the Reins”, that will feature two notable women from Idaho’s history: Katherine (Kittie) Wilkins, who was known as the “horse queen of Idaho;” and May Arkwright Hutton, who sometimes dressed in men’s clothing, ran for office in 1904 and made her fortune investing in mines in the Coeur d’Alene area.

Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb

Idaho women leaders of today recognized

Idaho is 20th in the nation for women in government, said Sen. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, taking the podium. However, five of six women in leadership positions in the Democratic party are women, said Sen. Michelle Stenett, D-Ketchum, who spoke next. These women in leadership are focused on collaboration, respect, mentorship and mutual encouragement, Stenett said.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb was recognized from the stand for winning IBR’s 2019 Woman of the Year, the top honor in the Women of the Year program, which recognizes 50 outstanding Idaho women from a variety of industries. Buckner-Webb couldn’t attend due to a knee surgery, but she sent Sen. Yvonne McCoy, who will be filling her shoes for the next several weeks.

“The epitome of a powerful, smart, talented and thoughtful woman is Cherie Buckner-Webb,” Stenett said, explaining that Buckner-Webb leads her own business, Sojourner Coaching. “She tells a lot of people in corporate how to do it right.”

“She and I agree that when it comes to power, the power comes in the vote, the vote that women have today,” McCoy said.

She went on to explain that women won the right to vote in Idaho state elections in 1896, but that many were denied that right for decades based on African or Asian ethnicity or membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Now the important thing to do is to hold onto that right, despite voter suppression, despite voter intimidation and despite sometimes a hostile political environment,” McCoy said. “We in America must never take for granted our precious right to vote. We must not forget how we got here, and we must not forget the great women who fought on our behalf.”

The celebration’s meaning for women throughout Idaho

Thursday’s event was the public launch, but organizers want to build energy and enthusiasm and broadcast it out to the whole state to help people get ready for the big celebration on Aug. 18, Gallimore said after the event.

“Doing this right now gets them thinking about being helped by women of the past,” she said. “It helps them think about the women leaders of today, and most importantly, it makes them think, how do women shape the future of Idaho?”

For more information and to get started on commemorative projects, visit idahowomen100.com.

I-WIL CEO and former First Lady of Idaho Lori Otter stands with I-WIL Executive Director Debbie Field (center) and Zions Bank Vice President of Executive Banking Relationships Jacqueline Hickman (left) at the Idaho Women 100 Launch Event on March 28. Photo by Rebecca Palmer.

I-WIL announces new chapter for entrepreneurs

Lori Otter, former first lady of Idaho and CEO of Idaho Women in Leadership (I-WIL) spoke at the Idaho Women 100 Launch event on March 28 at the Idaho State Capital.

I-WIL is collaborating with the Idaho State Historical Society and other groups to launch the yearlong celebration. The plans started three years ago, Otter said.

Idaho Women 100 Launch events will coincide with I-WIL’s mission to help women in business, get them involved in government and help them run for political office throughout the state, Otter said.

New this year, I-WIL is offering a special mixer for women who are building businesses.

“We are starting an entrepreneurial group of women that are so eager to share the things that they’ve learned and the things that they’ve accomplished in their life with the next generation coming up or other people of like-minded entrepreneurial spirit,” she said from the podium.

Find out more at I-WIL.com.

About Rebecca Palmer