To start a Women in Black vigil, all you need is a commitment to a cause that falls into the category of “against war and for justice”. That’s the main thing.
Below is a description of how many vigils work, but you can establish any formats or rules you like. Remember: every vigil is autonomous. You don’t have to ask permission about anything from anybody, other than your own group.
Here are some general guidelines.
What’s a vigil?
A vigil, as Women in Black use the term, generally means a nonviolent demonstration of one or more people in which we hold signs in a public location to express our political views. It’s not a march, but Women in Black around the world have sometimes also held marches. A vigil can be one woman (yes!) or a small group or even a large group.
A vigil is good to do at a busy intersection or a public location (e.g., in front of a government building or embassy), if that has any symbolic importance. It’s good to always meet in the same location, just so women know where they can find you, even if they don’t come regularly.
Most vigils are composed of women.
However, men have joined in a great many vigils throughout the world.
Most vigils meet on a regular basis.
Some meet once a week, others once a month, others just “upon occasion”. Some last for one hour at a time, others for longer.
At vigils, we hold signs that declare our political beliefs.
The variety of slogans is amazing. Some address international issues, such as the war against Iraq, while others address local issues, such as the rise of neo-Nazism in some countries.
Israeli Women in Black vigils hold signs that say “End the Occupation”. Internationally, many signs read “End the Israeli Occupation”.
In some countries, signs read, “End War” or “End All Oppression” or “Stop the Cycle of Violence” or simply “Peace”.
Are vigils silent?
Some vigils are silent – women stand with their signs. Others are not, and allow participants to talk to each other (or to bystanders). Some designate one woman to be the spokesperson to onlookers or the media.
Most vigils do not have chanting of slogans, but some do.
Most times, participants just begin holding a vigil, and discover over time what is right for them.
At some vigils, Women in Black pass out flyers to passersby; some don’t. Those who pass out flyers often speak to those they meet.
There’s a great deal of flexibility, and every vigil gets to decide for itself.