By Alissa Wolf
Millions of women (and men) across the U.S. and the world are eagerly gearing up for the second annual Women's March, taking place on Saturday, January 20.
The 2017 first march was a rousing success. Approximately 576 marches were held in the U.S. and 81 other countries, drawing an estimated five million participants worldwide. These were entirely peaceful events, with no reported violence or arrests. (A friend and I attended a sister march in Trenton, N.J., which was highly well-organized, and inspirational.)
This year's events will once again take place across the U.S. and the world, with more than 250 marches, rallies and other related gatherings planned for an expanded Weekend of Women. Members of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change plan to March in Philadelphia.
We also have a full schedule of additional Power Weekend events planned throughout the weekend. Plus, there will be other marches and rallies held in various parts of the state, which you can learn about here.
Below are some important tips for making this year's event another huge success.
First, Determine Why We March
Despite the name, the purpose of the marches is not just to focus attention on women's causes, such as reproductive rights. The official platform also supports immigration reform; healthcare reform; LGBTQ rights; workers' rights; an end to religious discrimination, gender and racial inequities; and other issues. SJWPC has created a comprehensive core platform that you may refer to.
Hand-held signs and posters are a powerful way to convey what we stand for, and a great way to get creative. SJWPC held a couple of sign-making parties where we provided each other with inspiration, and had lots of fun.
Yours can be serious, witty or humorous. The sign I created for last year's march, pictured at right, was wildly popular and generated a lot of guffaws. You can purchase materials at the dollar store. Just be sure that your sign doesn't convey any offensive messages.
Determine How You Will Get There
If you live near a large metropolis, you probably have access to public transportation. So determine the best schedule and route. If possible, you may want to purchase a ticket in advance. A group of SJWPC members plan to travel by PATCO, a high-speed rail line that travels from South Jersey to Philadelphia.
If you don't have access to public transportation, it would be a good idea to organize a carpool, and determine where to park in advance.
Get Hydrated and Nourished
In order to be physically fortified for this long day, be sure to eat a healthy, hearty meal beforehand. And drink lots of water before the event. You may want to refrain from quaffing a lot of H2O during the march, to avoid excessive, inconvenient restroom runs. You may also consider bringing some light snacks, such as a power bar, nuts and/or dried fruit, to keep your energy high.
Depending on where you live, the day could be very cold. So it's best to dress in warm layers with gloves, a scarf, hat and warm, comfortable shoes.
Rather than carrying a large, bulky handbag or other accessory that could weigh you down, consider bringing a small amount of necessities that could fit securely in your pockets, or a small wristlet. Bear in mind that there will be heightened security, and bags may be subject to search by police. So the less you bring the better.
Be sure to have some cash (not too much), an up-to-date form of ID such as a driver's license, emergency contact info, and your cellphone. And make sure that your phone is fully charged.
Let Someone Know Your Whereabouts
Although the events are expected to be peaceful and safe, it's a good idea to let someone who is not attending know where you will be, and when. So just in case of emergency, let a close, trusted relative or friend know of your whereabouts, and check in with them at the end of the day.
Support the Cause, Year-Round
While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and inspirational spirit of the day, it's also all too easy to slip into inaction afterward, due to the demands of everyday life. So do try to stay engaged in whatever small way possible throughout the year.
It could be something as small as donating to a cause that is dear to your heart, making phone calls or sending emails to lawmakers in regard to legislation that concerns you or attending the occasional city council meeting.
Remember, there is strength in numbers, and significant change begins at the grassroots level.
We at SJWPC look forward to marching along with you!
(For more details about Philly march routes, public transportation availability, restricted items and other pertinent details, please refer to this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer: Women's March Philadelphia.)