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This weekend, on January 18, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action is co-sponsoring the Women's March Chicago! Before you grab your sign and meet up with us, here are some facts about the Women’s March.

The first Women’s March was a response to the 2016 election

The first Women’s March happened on January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. According to national organizers, the purpose of the 2017 march was to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights." The largest Women’s March was held in Washington D.C., but more than 575 Women’s Marches were held worldwide.

The 2017 Women’s March quickly became the largest single-day protest in U.S. history!

The Women’s March has a strong mission

The Women’s March mission statement is “to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.”

The March is known for its visual messaging (remember those pussy hats?)

While the pussyhats (named in response to the infamous Donald Trump-Access Hollywood tape) were the most striking visual from the inaugural Women’s March in 2017, the protest art at the annual marches is so much more than that. If you join us at this year’s march, you’ll see your fair share of art featuring reproductive organs like uteruses and breasts, but importantly, you’ll also see plenty of recognition of the fact that not every woman has those parts. This inclusivity is what sets the Women’s March apart and makes it such a valuable platform for all.

The March hasn’t been without controversy

Since its inception, the national Women’s March organization has been plagued with questions about whether it is doing enough to lift the concerns of all women. Thankfully, Women’s March organizers have listened carefully and responded. This year’s march will feature Wayfinders, who are volunteers there to help people with disabilities find their way along the route. Organizers have also evolved the language and tone of their messaging to account for the diverse community of women who attend, to help ensure everyone has a chance to be heard. In response to criticism of its leadership, the national Women’s March organization recently elected a new board of directors. According to the group, the new board includes “leaders from a wide variety of communities, disciplines, ethnicities, religious beliefs, gender identities, and experiences.”

The 2020 Chicago Women’s March is a grassroots effort

The Women’s March in Illinois was organized by a grassroots group and is not directly affiliated with national leaders. The march will also be organized differently from years past and more interactive than ever before! 

Each block along the Chicago March route will focus on a different progressive issue, like health care, gun violence prevention, climate change, the 2020 census, and voter registration. PPIL and Healthy Illinois will be leading the health care block and firing up the crowd in support of viewing health care as a human right.

So make a sign, get fired up, and we’ll see you out there!

Megan McCullough is a grassroots organizer at Planned Parenthood of Illinois