Strike on International Women’s Day met with criticism
By: Savanah Tillberg, Staff Writer
In addition to being International Women’s Day, March 8th 2017 was also dubbed as “A Day Without a Woman.” Women across the globe were encouraged to “take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor, avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses), and/or wear RED in solidarity [of the event].”
The concept was created to coincide with the Principles of Unity, which support reproductive rights, ending violence, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. The premise of A Day Without a Woman was to pay tribute to the contributions made by women throughout history as well as to recognize the value of all female-identified persons who experience “greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”
The concept, however, was met with extreme criticism. Women around the world referred to this event as something intended for the privileged. While one group of women strike from work, another group of women is left to deal with the consequences. Not all women can afford to go a day without pay, or afford child care in the case that their children’s schools close for the day due to lack of teacher-attendance. Maureen Shaw, a feminist writer, wrote, “This feels very much like a protest of the privileged – and frankly, unrealistic. Tens of millions of women have neither the benefits nor the flexibility to take the day off in protest.”
Criticism of the 24-hour strike was challenged by supporters of the event who claimed A Day Without a Woman could be honoured by being consciously aware of where one shops or by simply wearing red, a colour associated with the labour movement. The organizers of A Day Without a Woman asked that men attempt to be even more involved with household chores on March 8th and stand in solidarity with women and the mission for equality. The organizers emphasized that the day was not exclusively about striking, but rather about demonstrating the need for equity amongst the genders.
The event was inspired by several other small demonstrations throughout the United States, such as A Day Without Immigrants. This event took place on February 16th in protest of President Trump’s immigration executive order. Immigrants across the United States gave up their work shifts or closed their businesses for the day.
Tithi Bhattacharya, an associate professor at Purdue University and a key figure in the organization of the March 8th event said in and interview with The Guardian, “The decline in real wages, the rise of mass incarceration, the violence against marginalized communities – those issues did not start with Trump, those are ongoing. Trump is their apotheosis.” The organizers added that it would be a long four years; however, the fight for feminism is a worthy battle. Bhattacharya said, “Especially surrounding Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, there’s been this idea that feminism is somehow about women becoming powerful and successful CEOs. The goal of [March 8th] is to make feminism a threat to the system and to talk about the feminism about the 99% rather than the 1%.”
Though controversial, A Day Without a Woman sparked conversations around the globe concerning feminism and gender equality, accomplishing the mission of those organizing the event.