Walking a mile, taking back the night to raise awareness about violence against women
London Community News
One would think the biggest challenge for the men taking part in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser is maneuvering around Victoria Park in high-heeled shoes.
But alas, in the event’s first year, participants stumbled off the nearly one-mile route and became lost.
“They kept going when they should have turned right,” said Pamela Coray, the development manager for London’s Women’s Community House shelter. “And of course, they’re men, so nobody stopped to ask for directions.”
Coray said she hopes the 100 to 125 participants expected to take part in this year’s march, where men don women’s shoes to educate the community about sexual violence against women and raise money for women’s shelters and emergency services, on Sunday (Sept. 16) will be able to easily navigate the loop around the park.
The walk, now in its fifth year, has raised $149,000 for Women’s Community House’s programs for children and Coray said this year’s fundraising goal is $60,000.
Men can raise money through pledges or online donations and anyone still wanting to participate has until Tuesday (Sept. 11) at midnight to register online.
If the thought of having to rub sore feet and pop blisters for the next few weeks is dissuading anyone from taking part, however, Coray said there will be plenty of blister cream, Band-aids and first-aid available during and after the march.
“We also advise the guys to bring sort of like a dress pair of socks. The shoes aren’t meant for the guys to wear athletic socks with them.”
She added that just prior to the march’s start at 12:30 p.m., an emcee will lead the participants through some exercises to get them used to not only walking in the heels, but wearing them in style.
“Last year, our leader stood up there and said, ‘OK, I want all the guys to stand up and I want you to click your heels together twice and repeat there’s no place like home’,” she said.
For more information on the walk or to register, visit www.walkamilelondon.ca.
Another event where Women’s Community House is hoping to help empower women in the community is the Take Back the Night gathering on Thursday, Sept. 20.
“It’s really a call to action because women are not safe walking in our own community at any time really,” said Shelley Yeo, the shelter’s director of transition and community programs. “That sexual assaults and other types of assaults still happen. It’s an action against rape and other forms of violence against women.”
For 34 years, she added, the event has brought together people to fight for women’s rights and safety and this year’s gathering includes speeches, a rally and a march.
Keynote speakers this year will include Melanie Brown, representatives of the Occupy movement and the London Grandmothers Project.
In the past, between 300 to 400 people have attended the rally, and Yeo said thanks to social media, even more are expected to come out this year.
And many of the roughly 250 people who have already RSVPed for the event on Facebook are young people, she added, including men.
“Men do come and they support us from the sidelines,” Yeo said, explaining men take part in the rally and then cheer on women as they march near Victoria Park.
Members of London’s women’s roller derby community will also be on hand to help guide marchers.
Beyond the Take Back the Night event, the Women’s Community House helps women by offering safety planning to those who use the shelter’s services as well as support programs for women needing to talk about the challenges they face.
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Victoria Park and an after-party will take place at Lavish at 238 Dundas Street.
For more information, go to facebook.com/womenseventscommittee.