The first thing to know about Saturday’s Women’s March in Santa Fe is that it’s not a march.
Organizers say it will be a rally at a single place — the state Capitol. And while they acknowledge the crowd likely will be smaller than in previous years, they’re adamant that fewer people does not equate to less passion.
“I don’t think the interest is waning,” said Bernadette Vadurro, the lead organizer for the Santa Fe rally.
In 2017, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 clogged the streets of Santa Fe for the march on the first full day of President Donald Trump’s administration. A year and a day later, the 2018 march drew a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 in below-freezing temperatures. Last year, an estimated 2,500 people attended.
Vadurro said a late planning start this year meant the Santa Fe County Federation of Democratic Women, the lead sponsor for this year’s event, could not secure the city permits or the $1,800 necessary to pay security for a march. She said she’s anticipating a smaller crowd — between 1,000 and 2,000 — in part because the national Women’s March Inc. did not promote the event.
“We filled out the online form to submit the event, but it hasn’t been posted,” she said. “But I don’t have a crystal ball.”
Vadurro said the focus for this year’s rally is “Women Rising,” referring to women who are leaders and “women empowering each other,” she said.
Some confirmed speakers include several well-known Democratic Party politicians, including New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Others include the four women who sit on the Santa Fe City Council, plus state Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen and three candidates — two of them women — running for Luján’s House seat as he pursues a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The list of speakers also includes women from nonprofits such as the National Organization of Women’s Santa Fe Chapter, the New Mexico Black Leadership Council, Solace Crisis Center and New Mexico Women.
“We want to highlight women who fight for equal rights, equal pay and reproductive rights — all things that are being rolled back at this point in time,” Vadurro said. “We can’t just stay at home.”
Tension between Women’s March Inc. and local groups that are putting on women’s marches around the country has surfaced in recent years. Emiliana Guereca, president of the Women’s March Foundation — separate from Women’s March Inc. — said she hopes the divisiveness will subside.
“We want to work in tandem; we want to work together,” Guereca said. “We grew very fast; we all have our different missions and visions and how we see the movement.”
On the financial side, multiple state-based organizers said Women’s March Inc. failed to pay them but leveraged their donors to fund the national chapter, raising more that $2 million in 2018.
Samia Assed of Albuquerque was elected in July to join the 16-member national board to replace the three inaugural members.
Assed, a longtime organizer, said she joined the board, despite “a lot of baggage on its plate,” because she saw the impact of the worldwide protest and opportunities for women who were left out of the conversation.
“I think we’ve set the tone for a lot of movements in the country, really pushed women on the ground to get involved,” Assed said.
She helped organize Sunday’s Albuquerque Women’s March, which will focus on climate issues, reproductive rights and immigration.
She said the board has to improve and continue partnering with organizations at the local level.
“Americans have been trained to think it’s one time and it’s done,” Assed said. “Until we are equal on every standard and every living space and at every working space, we need to march.”