‘A Day Without a Woman’ strike aims to raise awareness

Organisers say women should not work on Wednesday, which is also International Women’s Day, to demonstrate their power.

Women in the US are being encouraged to participate in a strike intended to raise awareness over issues including economic inequality, reproductive rights, civil liberties and ending violence.

The one-day protest on Wednesday, labelled as A Day Without a Woman, is aimed at calling attention to economic bias faced by women.

Organisers called on women to take the day off of work or school, and said they should not spend money, in an attempt to highlight women’s role in society.

Among the eight organisers are: activist and author Angela Davis; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, African American Studies professor at Princeton University; Tithi Bhattacharya, South Asian history professor at Purdue University, Indiana; Rasmea Yousef Odeh, associate director of the Arab American Network; and Barbara Ransby, an author, historian and activist.

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“Stand with women around the globe,” they said.

They said they were inspired by a recent “bodega strike” by Yemeni grocery-shop owners in New York who shut shop to protest against a travel order banning Yemenis from entering the US.

According to an official website, men could take part by “consider[ing] the ways that the women in your life care for and support you … daily, and imagin[ing] how you can provide that support to women in your life”, including taking on housework and bringing up the issue of equal pay at work.

Schools closed

The planned strike coincides with the UN-designated International Women’s Day.

Two school districts in North Carolina and Virginia have cancelled classes, telling about 27,000 students to stay home because not enough teachers and staff plan to show up for work.

All 16 public schools in Alexandria, Virginia will be closed after more than 300 staff members requested leave on Wednesday.

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, officials said 400 workers – including teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria staff – indicated they would participate in the strike.

Officials in both districts said the decisions to close schools were not to be seen as political statements but taken simply because there were not going to be enough staff to safely run the schools.

Organisers acknowledged that many women would not be able to participate in the strike for financial or practical reasons.

“Many women in our most vulnerable communities will not have the ability to join the strike, due to economic insecurity. We strike for them,” organisers said, and encouraged women who could not strike to wear something red in a show of solidarity.

Opposing Trump ‘not enough’

Organisers also want to show solidarity with the majority-women protests held around the world after Trump’s inauguration in January.

“The massive women’s marches of January 21 may mark the beginning of a new wave of militant feminist struggle,” the organisers said as they announced the protest in The Guardian newspaper.

“But what exactly will be its focus? In our view, it is not enough to oppose [US President Donald] Trump and his aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies. We also need to target the ongoing neoliberal attack on social provision and labour rights.”

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To signify love and sacrifice, women should wear red on the day, they said.

In an interview with Goodcast, an online channel aimed at American Muslims, civil rights activist Linda Sarsour said: “Women are [one] of the largest consumer groups. If you have to shop that day, we encourage you to support women or minority-owned businesses.”

Protest rallies are planned in several cities, including New York.

Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March in Washington, DC [Bryan Woolston/Reuters]
Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women’s March in Washington, DC [Bryan Woolston/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera