Why would someone think it was a good idea to ride a bus overnight to Washington, D.C., to spend a day and a half and then ride it back? Why would she think sleeping in a bed only one of those nights and eating at truck stops was a smart choice?

When plans were announced for the "We Are Woman" rally - a congressional lobby day and rally on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution - I signed up immediately. I became a part of the 50-member delegation from Minnesota.

Why? One woman on the bus trip said she was taking action like this for the first time and wanted to be a part of something big. Two teenagers told me they were there because their mom made them come - and if it was important to her, it was important to them. A woman spoke of being on the bus for her mother, who had died three years before. One of her mother's greatest regrets was that the ERA had never passed. A young activist thought it would be a good way to build alliances. Many, some of whom were not mothers yet, spoke of wanting a better world for their grandchildren. I have three granddaughters and hope for a more equitable world for all women. And it is important for my grandson, too. When women are treated equally, we all benefit.

Some came with a friend. Others knew a few of the participants before the trip. Some came alone. By the time we had traveled together, slept on the bus together, visited Congress members' offices together, fought off the rally rain together and shared our stories along the way, we knew each other well.

Written by suffragist Alice Paul, the ERA was introduced to Congress by Republicans in 1923. In 1971-72, it passed Congress with large majorities. The next step to becoming a permanent part of the Constitution was ratification by 38 states. By 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA; Minnesota was 26th. The original arbitrarily set deadline was June 1979, and then it was extended to June 30, 1982, but passage remained stalled at 35 states. There is a new effort now to eliminate the deadline for ratification with the goal to pick up three more states. Illinois is expected to vote on the ERA in November.

Misinformation may be the biggest obstacle to final approval. Many believe that the ERA happened a long time ago. The reality is that there are no guarantees against sexual discrimination in our Constitution. As we have recently seen with reproductive rights, laws can come and go. An amendment makes a guarantee permanent.

At the rally, we cheered our own state Sen. Sandy Pappas at the podium sharing the story of the passage of Minnesota's Women's Economic Security Act earlier this year. And we were proud to hear Minnesota members of the Women's Veteran Initiative as they read the names of women who gave their lives in service to our country - but who were not protected from sex discrimination or sexual violence in that service.

We came with different areas of concern and activism - sexual violence, trafficking, women in the military, union alliances, tribal disparities, LGBT issues and parental concerns. We stood together for something important, larger than any one of us. We lobbied for votes and action from our representatives who can make it happen. We rallied, danced and sang for change. We witnessed each other's stories and built alliances and connections going forward.

Was being on the bus such a good idea? Yes.

What can you say yes to?

FFI: www.wearewoman.us/era

Where do you see women connecting and making change in your world? Send me your story, magnuson@womenspress.com