Everything you need to know about the March 8 women’s strike.
You’re not a bad feminist if you can’t skip work to strike on International Women’s Day.
The organizers behind Wednesday’s “A Day Without A Woman” demonstration are encouraging ladies who labor to refrain from paid and unpaid work (like caregiving) to prove how indispensable they are to the economy. Already, the D.C.-area Alexandria, Va. school district will be closed because more than 300 staffers requested the day off. School’s also out at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District in North Carolina for the day, since 75% of their employees are women expected to participate.
But not every woman can afford to do this. Hello, gender income gap. And, of course, many don’t want to; others are criticizing the initiative.
But if you do want to participate, there are several ways to do it while you’re on the clock, such as dressing in solidarity and boycotting businesses to show what women are worth.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is A Day Without A Woman exactly?
The walkout is designed to showcase the impact that woman have on the economy. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers in the U.S. are women, so if every one of them actually stayed home, workplaces would grind to a halt. Yet, women only earn about 80 cents to the dollar that men make, and they’re subject to hiring discrimination, sexual harassment and getting passed over for promotions. They are also disproportionately doing the unpaid work of caring for children, elderly parents and sick relatives in their “spare” time. So A Day Without A Woman, organized by the activists behind January’s huge Women’s March on Washington, hopes to raise awareness of all these women’s issues, as well as those that laborers of both genders grapple with, such as the right to organize, earning a living wage and getting access to affordable healthcare and childcare, sick days and paid family leave. It’s also spotlighting violence against women, reproductive freedom and environmental protection.
How does it work?
The big call to action, which is in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike, encourages women to stay home from work, and to refrain from doing unpaid work such as caregiving or household chores, which more often than not falls on a woman’s shoulders. The organizers have even drafted letter templates for employees to let their bosses know that they’ll be missing work to participate in the strike, as well as sample out-of-office messages for emails.
But you’re not just playing hooky for the greater good that day. Participants are supposed to attend local marches and rallies, support local activist groups, contact elected officials, etc.
Everyone is also asked to avoid shopping in stores or online, with the exception of small women- and minority-owned businesses supporting the event. And wear red in solidarity. The organizers say it not only symbolizes love and sacrifice, energy and action, but the fiery shade has historically been linked with the labor movement.
What about the men?
Men can support the women in their lives by leaning in and handling the duties their female partners typically do, which might include housework, running errands or taking care of the kids. Or dads can watch young kids or bring them to work for the day so that moms can participate in Women’s Day activities.
At work, they can also wear red and address equal pay and family leave with colleagues, or schedule a meeting with the decision-makers at the company to discuss the actions they can take toward gender equality.
The organizers also suggest that men consider how they can improve their interactions with women at work. Do they expect female colleagues to clean up after meetings or after a team orders food?
What about bosses?
Businesses are asked to consider closing shop for the day, or giving female workers the day off to participate. But even more importantly, workplaces should seriously take steps to implement policies that benefit employees and their families, such as equal pay among men and women, providing a livable wage and offering paid leave.
And women themselves can consider giving a paid day off to housekeepers, caregivers and nannies, especially if male partners can pick up the slack.
Where are protests being held?
There’s a running list of events being updated on the International Women’s Strike page, with rallies and marches planned from Fairbanks, Alaska to Chattanooga, Tenn. The A Day Without a Woman organizers are highlighting the NYC rally planned for noon at the southeast corner of Central Park, where Fifth Ave. and 59th Street intersect. That will be followed by the International Women’s Strike Washington Square Park meetup at 4 p.m.
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