March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a day where women and allies around the world, reflect on progress made, and celebrate acts of courage, determination and persistence by women all around the world. Women who are making a difference in their communities, cities, states or provinces, and their countries. It also a day to call for change, to call on leaders in our respective countries to take a stand for gender equality in all aspects of society, and an end to violence against women
This year, the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington have called for a “Day without a Woman” to coincide with International Women’s Day, where women and allies will act together for “equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender oppressed people through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.” The goal as outlined by the organizers is to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices and disparities that women still face. Women still earn significantly less than men in the same jobs. The average white or Asian woman will earn between $350,000 and $430,000 less than the average white man over a lifetime. If you are Native American, African American or Latina, you will earn between $800,000 and $1,000,000 less than the average white man. (Reporter, Lydia O'Connor; Post, The Huffington, 2016-04-12. "The Wage Gap: Terrible For All Women, Even Worse For Women Of Color". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-26.)
When we send our daughters to college, one in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault. When they graduate from college and enter the workforce, they will be disrespected, harassed, pigeonholed, and paid less. If they are able to move up the professional ladder, they will increasingly find themselves isolated, ignored, talked over. At home a third of our daughters will be victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. Every day 3 women are murdered by a current or former male partner in the United States (National Sexual Violence Resource Center - http://www.nsvrc.org/resources).
So why a Day Without a Woman? What’s the point of a strike you might say? Well, what better way to show the collective value and economic strength of women in our society than by removing our presence and our dollars for a day? What better way of showing the world that we do indeed “hold up half the sky?”
Of course we will hear some of the same voices that argue that #BlackLivesMatter is disrespectful of all lives when there are clear indications of widespread discrimination against the black community. The same voices that question the existence of #BlackHistoryMonth despite the fact that black history does not exist prominently in mainstream curriculum; who will joke about our efforts, or complain that there should be a day without a man. When millions of women converged on Washington earlier this year, some questioned our motive, some, including other women, criticized the value of that type of public protest statement despite the fact that so many gains for women have come because of the courage of those who would stand in protest. This generation of women in the workplace have benefited significantly from the strength and persistence of women (and men) who came before us, who suffered abuse but refused to rest until we had a voice in our own political system; who pushed back tirelessly against patriarchy until we had opportunities to be gainfully employed; who continue to fight misogyny, gender shaming and sexual objectification to make a better world for our children - both boys and girls.
When I marched in January, I did so with a positive spirit, determined to be a voice for change. Today, I will stand in solidarity with women all across this country, wearing red, buying from local women-owned businesses and using my voice for change. This is a call on the masses or a call on yourself to help forge a better working world - a more inclusive gender equal world. A call to #BeBoldForChange.