Today is International Women’s Day, which has been observed for decades as a celebration of women’s achievements across the globe and a call for gender equality.
Some of the same folks who brought you the Women’s March on Washington in January are planning a general strike for this Wednesday called “A Day Without a Woman.”
In an op-ed at the New York Times Phoebe Lett writes, Why Women Are On Strike:
Inspired by two strikes last October — one successfully quashing a Polish parliament bill banning abortion, the other drawing tens of thousands to protest violence against women and girls in Argentina — organizers in more than 50 countries have coordinated a day of global action, including strikes, rallies and other gatherings.
The United States strike will focus on “broadening the definition of violence against women,” says Sarah Leonard, spokesperson for the strike. In addition to protesting domestic, sexual and physical violence against women, Tithi Bhattacharya, a member of the strike’s organizing committee, says the strike on Wednesday focuses on rejecting the “systemic violence of an economic system that is rapidly leaving women behind.”
“This is the day to emphasize the unity between work done in the so-called formal economy and the domestic sphere, the public sphere and the private sphere, and how most working women have to straddle both,” says Ms. Bhattacharya. “Labor is understood to be work only at the point of production, but as women we know that both society and policy makers invisibilize the work that women do.” The strike calls for women to withhold labor, paid or unpaid, from the United States economy to show how important their contributions are.
The platform of the strike seeks to elevate the demands of the majority of women, not simply the demands of the loudest or most privileged women.
“The language of feminism in recent years has been used to talk about ‘Lean In’ feminism,” says Ms. Bhattacharya. “We do not want a world where women become C.E.O.s, we want a world where there are no C.E.O.s, and wealth is redistributed equally.” This, she explains, is why they decided to convey their “new international feminist movement” around the socialist philosophy of “Feminism for the 99 Percent.”
The slogan evokes the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement intentionally. “We thought that Occupy had a wonderful resonance in being able to articulate that the problem with our lives was not just the one issue or the two issues,” Ms. Bhattacharya explains. “The problem with our lives was the system of exploitation and oppression that affects the vast majority of people while a minority, the one percent, profited from it.”
he strike organizers hope to channel the anger on display at the women’s marches around the world on Jan. 21 into action on behalf of some of the country’s most economically vulnerable women.
Like the marches (the strike is in solidarity with the January march and it’s “Day Without A Woman,” but the two are otherwise unaffiliated), the strike has been criticized for focusing too much on women of privilege. Some say that women with the job stability, financial security and physical ability to leave their workplaces for a protest will be the only ones who show up, and that marginalized women will be excluded.
But the strike organizers say that Wednesday will offer an opportunity for those with resources to stand up for more marginalized women, who will bear the brunt of the economic decisions made by the Trump administration.
“The women that are most vulnerable to this economy have been engaged in strikes or other forms of labor struggles all year long, whether that’s being involved in the prison strike, organizing their workplaces, or working with the Fight for Fifteen,” says Ms. Leonard. This strike is a way of connecting feminist and labor movements and educating new activists from the Women’s March about how they can get involved locally. Local labor unions, legal and immigrant organizations, and the Yemeni bodega strikers have all endorsed the strike and will participate.
Because many people lack labor protections in this country, the organizers have made an effort to encourage participation in ways that will not jeopardize their jobs, suggesting that supporters who cannot strike consider wearing red, only spending money at women-owned and small businesses, or support local groups already working for social justice within their communities.
“Everyone should do what they think is practical for them. That’s everyone’s choice to make in the context of their work environment,” says Ms. Leonard.
Ultimately, the goal of the strike is to build a movement of women who agree that the wellbeing of a society stems from affordable child care and health care and an equal living wage.
“Historically, when the state declines to provide things like health care and child care, those responsibilities are thrown back on the home and the family,” says Ms. Leonard. “The people who usually do most of the work in the home to support the family are women. So women know. Women know what’s missing and women know what they need.”
The Arizona Republic reports, Strikes planned for International Women’s Day March 8, but will Arizona see any impact?
“Women and our 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 website says.
Instead of taking to the streets, organizers are suggesting:
“Women take the day off from paid and unpaid labor
Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses)
Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman”
The organizers are also supporting the International Women’s Strike on Wednesday, a separate initiative from grassroots feminists outside the U.S.
The efforts have gained steam in some cities – thousands have RSVPd for a rally and march at Washington Square Park in New York City – but there appears to be little traction in metro Phoenix and Arizona as a whole.
Although it is possible many are quietly planning to strike Wednesday, no major Arizona community leaders, businesses or organizations have posted yet about the strikes or announced participation in any way.
A Facebook event encouraging people to meet at the Arizona State Capitol at noon Wednesday for the strike emerged Monday morning, but garnered less than 200 RSVPs in 24 hours.
In Tucson, the Dolores Huerta Celebración Planning Committee and César E. Chávez Coalition are planning a free public gathering, media appearance and strike for the day.
Local leaders including Tucson vice mayor Regina Romero will discuss education, healthcare, equity and feminist organizing at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the YWCA’s Frances McClelland Community Center, which will offer free coffee and snacks from 9 to 11 a.m. and will close at 2 p.m. in solidarity with the strike.
Kristy King, who was one of the organizers of the Women’s March in Phoenix that drew more than 20,000 people to the streets in January, told The Arizona Republic that her groups, Women’s March Phoenix and Arizona Women for Social Justice, are not planning or participating in the strike.
“We don’t think a strike is a wise strategy given the number of women in Arizona who do essential care work or who survive on the economic margins,” she said in an email Wednesday. “I haven’t seen any real efforts to organize a strike in Phoenix.”
Some seek other Women’s Day activities
Susan B. Castner, a vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, is helping organize the annual Women in Blue Day at the state Legislature Wednesday.
It will begin with a continental breakfast in the Rose Garden at 7:30 a.m. followed by presentations from state legislators and organizations encouraging, funding and training women to run for elected office, she said.
I tend to agree with D.R. Tucker at the Political Animal blog, Marching is Good. Voting is Better.
Yes, the Women’s Marches were huge and historic. Yes, the planned marches in April in defense of science and in support of climate action will be significant. However, all the marches, protests, signs and hats in the country will not turn back Trump’s tyranny. Only voting can do that.
Your conviction must be that “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”