Celebrating women’s rights with FEMFest

Hannah Ray Lambert, Evergreen reporter

For decades, the University of Idaho has celebrated the signing of the 19th Amendment and the recognition of women’s suffrage.

Starting last year, the University of Idaho Women’s Center celebrates the date with FEMFest, an outdoor fair that aims to get the campus and community talking about women’s issues.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 on the Idaho Commons Plaza at the University of Idaho campus. FEMFest will include free sno-cones, popcorn, music, raffle prizes, and a brief announcement about the significance of the day.

Lysa Salsbury, director of the Women’s Center, has been involved with the celebration of Women’s Equality Day for several years. She said that after the success of last year’s FEMFest, the Women’s Center decided to make it their annual celebration.

Salsbury said campus and community groups that provide services “connected to empowering women” will also have tables set up for people to visit in order to showcase their services.

“We’re celebrating all the sources of information and access to resources that women have on campus and in the community,” Interim Coordinator for the event Colleen Kulesza said.

Kulesza said that FEMFest is still relevant today for many reasons.

“Women are still the primary victims of domestic violence. Within the work world, the family world and relationships, women are still having to fight for equality,” Kulesza said. “Even with the right to vote, which is huge, we still struggle for equality in other places.”

Several groups will participate in FEMFest including: Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, the University of Idaho LGBTQA Office, Society of Women Engineers, and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.

“We love to partner with the Women’s Center and FEMFest,” said Jennifer Whitney, field organizer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.

Whitney was involved with last year’s FEMFest. She said the event is fun, and the festival also provides a platform for discussion about women’s equality, such as pay equality.

“(Last year) I had a woman come up, and she gave me a $250 donation. She was just so pumped up about women’s equality and Planned Parenthood that she just wrote me a check right on the spot,” Whitney said.