PITTSBURG — The Southeast Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women has made plans to host a local Women’s March in conjunction with the event’s second year.

Last January, women from across the nation took part in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and other locations. Marches also took place in other countries. Some SEK NOW members took part in the Washington march, as well as a march in Kansas City, but this year, the group decided to host an event locally.

As for why women took part in the marches, SEK NOW Secretary Deborah Ball McGeorge said it’s about community, support and being heard.

“[We march] to make our voices heard, to show each other that we are there, and there for each other,” McGeorge said. “The world seems unsure for many of us right now, and the Women’s March last year was a reassuring moment for many of us. We are continuing that tradition with this year’s march.”

The 2018 Women’s March is planned for January 20 and 21, and SEK NOW will host the local march January 20.

People are invited to meet in front of Russ Hall on the Pittsburg State University campus at 1 p.m. Participants will then march to Pritchett Pavilion at the corner of 2nd and Broadway, where a rally will take place with several guest speakers. SEK NOW encourages anyone who cannot take part in the walking portion to meet at Pritchett Pavilion for the main event.

Speakers at the event will include Kansas State Representative Monica Murnan, Pittsburg City Commissioner Sarah Chenoweth, former Kansas State Representative Julie Menghini, PSU Students for Violence Prevention Coordinator Ali Smith, PSU Assistant Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies Sandra Cox, Safehouse Crisis Center Shelter Advocate Stephanie Spitz and community organizer Cynthia Hernandez.

McGeorge said the idea for a local march was first brought up by a relatively new member. SEK NOW liked the idea. McGeorge said members — including herself — attended marches elsewhere last year, but travel is not always an option. She said the member who suggested the local march also wanted to show the level of support for women locally.

“The woman who suggested having a march here was concerned with sexual assault and how isolating it can be,” McGeorge said. “By having an event locally, we can make visible that we are here for support and that those individuals are not alone.”

McGeorge said while the participants will be marching down Broadway and listening to speakers along Broadway, the marchers will be on the sidewalks.

“We’re not going to be blocking or disrupting traffic,” she said. “We’ll likely be on both sides of Broadway, which will help increase visibility.”

McGeorge said participants are encouraged to get creative and bring signs if they would like. She also said it is helpful for attendants to RSVP through Facebook in order for organizers to get a more accurate count, but an RSVP is not necessary.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.