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How to Prepare for the Women’s March on Washington

“Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan – Download here.

I’m attending the Women’s March!


Over the last several months, I’ve spent a lot of time stewing over the best way to make a difference in a country that has been and remains a threatening and degrading space for thousands of people. While local and state activism, including making phone calls to representatives, is vital, what’s become apparent to me is that most of the policies we promote on both sides of the political spectrum have a glaring tendency toward embracing the “good enough” short term fixes instead of long term solutions.

Defending policies like the ACA matters, but putting pressure on politicians only goes so far. For long term change, we need to mobilize and befriend.

On a personal scale, I’ve been trying to cultivate attentiveness and intention, reaching out to friends, coworkers, and customers who seem like they need someone to talk to, or just need a compliment or a reminder that they matter to someone.

I believe the Women’s March can serve as a large scale version of this frame of mind. For me, it’s less about what policy change happens as a direct result of the march and more about showing solidarity. It’s about being in one place with the women and men I admire, from priests to bloggers to old friends.

There’s power in community, as I’ve learned from participating in a healthy church, and you don’t have to be completely unified to stand together.

I am marching because women, and particularly women of color, still need feminism. I am marching because strong women and men in my life are going, and they are showing me that it’s good to overcome fear and make a move. I am marching because my friend from middle school who grew up under the same patriarchal structure as me is going, and there’s something beautiful and full circle about marching next to her.

I march because I believe that it matters to look into the faces of strangers of all ages, people who do and do not look like me, and say together that we will keep moving forward.

Getting Prepared

This is only the second march I’ve ever attended, and the only one with real security requirements, so I’ve been reading up as much as I can on how I can best prepare for the day.

In terms of security, the Women’s March outlines what you can and cannot bring. I’ve copied the full text below (read more FAQs here).

All backpacks and bags may be subject to search at the March, and those not conforming to the standards set here may be confiscated or asked to be left behind. Backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17″x12″x6″ (colored transparent bags are not permitted).

  • Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8”x6”x4”.  
  • Specifically for people who would like to bring meals, each marcher is permitted one additional 12”x12”x6” plastic or gallon bag.  
  • For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, please ensure that your supplies fit into the above clear backpack. You can have one backpack per individual in your group, as long as they abide by the above guidelines.
  • If you are a member of the press, covering the event officially, and have equipment that will not fit into bags of the above dimensions: please contact the National Communications Team to get press credentials in advance in order for your equipment to be allowed into the rally site.
  • If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, please enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave.  For anyone using Metro, please get off at Federal Center SW and use 4th St. to enter the rally area.
  • Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.
  • Do not bring anything that can be construed as a weapon, including signage with any kind of handle (e.g. a sharpened wooden stick). We recommend also checking with your bus company if your bus will be secured during the march and if you can leave larger belongings in the bus, rather than carrying them all day.
Note that you are not permitted to bring large handbags or backpacks. Additional Inauguration Week security requirements restrict metal containers (like Klean Kanteen water bottles).
The March organizers also recommend checking the forecast frequently throughout the week and preparing for very cold weather. It may rain, so make sure shoes and coats are water proof, and wear comfortable shoes.
Here are some suggestions for what to bring from Detroit Free Press:
  • Thermal underwear beneath your clothes
  • Winter gear such as a scarf, gloves, balaclava and hat
  •  A coat that is insulated comfortable and waterproof with a hood 
  • Waterproof shoes or boots that have been broken in and are suitable for walking long distances. 
  • Travel-sized wet wipes and/or tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A paper map of Washington, D.C.

An official Inauguration Security list can be found here. One can assume Women’s March security will be nearly identical.

Know Your Rights

Read up on your rights on the ACLU website.

Other Resources:

Due to some circulation issues I have in my extremities, if the forecast takes a turn toward incredibly cold, I will likely attend Charlottesville’s sister event instead. 

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.
Also, let me know if you’re going!!

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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