By Samantha Cooney
March 7, 2017
MOTTO
Samantha Cooney is the associate editor for Motto.

Women across the country are going on strike.

On Wednesday — International Women’s Day — some women will take the day off from their jobs and household responsibilities, including childcare and chores. Others will boycott shopping at any business that isn’t owned by a women or minorities. And others, who are unable to take the day off, will wear red — “the color signifying revolutionary love and sacrifice” — in solidarity.

The planned strike is a culmination of efforts by organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, which is arranging A Day Without a Woman, and the International Women’s Strike, which will encourage women in over 50 countries to take similar action. The two groups are separate but standing in solidarity with each other. And both share similar goals: to make a statement about the economic power of women, to call attention to issues facing marginalized women, to fight outdated conditions that keep women oppressed and to find ways to keep women actively engaged in fighting back against President Donald Trump and his policies.

The International Women’s Strike began organizing in October 2016. The group of organizers, largely consisting of academics and activists, were inspired by women in Poland who went on strike to protest a proposed abortion ban last October — and successfully convinced lawmakers to walk back their plans.

Now, the International Women’s Strike organizers are hoping their efforts on Wednesday have a similarly meaningful impact. “We wanted feminism to become a threat again — not just to Trump, but addressing a systemic set of issues that has been generated over the years,” said Tithi Bhattacharya, one of the International Women’s Strike organizers and a professor at Purdue University, told Motto.

Meanwhile, after the Women’s March on Washington saw women turn out in force across the country and the world to protest President Donald Trump and women’s oppression, organizers wanted to capitalize on the momentum and saw a strike as a perfect way to do just that.

“We chose a strike for our next action because we wanted to make a point about the economic impact of women in the U.S,” Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, the youth and family coordinator for the Women’s March on Washington, told Motto.

The organizers are asking women, if they can, to take the day off from work and refrain from doing household tasks. A Day Without a Woman organizers want men who want to support the cause to show up at work and start conversations about discrimination in their workplaces. Beyond striking, a Day Without a Woman wants women to flex the power of their purses by refraining from shopping, except at small businesses owned by women or minorities.

“I think that economic ways of protesting are among the most powerful because women control so many consumer decisions in the United States,” Shannon Coulter, the organizer behind #GrabYourWallet told Motto. “Some younger women are in the first part of their careers, and they don’t want to be too vocal about their politics. It’s a way that they can feel some measure of control over the situation without raising red flags or rocking the boat, which I really like.”

While it’s unclear just how many women plan to participate, there are protests and demonstrations planned across the country, led by organizers from both groups. So far, two school districts, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Alexandria, Virginia, even announced that they would close schools after a high number of employees requested the day off.

Strike organizers know that many women won’t be able to take the day off from work or taking care of their children, which is why they added the option of wearing red in solidarity with the movement. Bhattacharya also suggested that women take time out of their day to have discussions with co-workers or friends about what they can do to keep fighting back against President Trump, discrimination in the workplace and negative policies that affect women.

But still, the strike has already garnered criticism as a protest solely for “privileged” women, saying that it will be ineffective if not all women strike. But both A Day Without a Woman and International Women’s Strike organizers say that’s not the case.

“We want this to be feminism of the 99%,” Cinzia Arruzza, an organizer of the International Women’s Strike and an assistant professor at the New School, told Motto. “I think there’s an opportunity for a new type of feminism movement, where the protagonists are the most oppressed women.”

And that’s the ultimate goal of the strike for both groups: to continue building connections that will keep the resistance movement active. Cassady Fendlay, the head of communications for the March, says that Women’s March organizers aren’t ready to discuss their next actions yet, but they’re committed to organizing and fighting back. International Women’s Strike organizers say they want to connect with local organizers across the U.S. to discuss their next plan of action, as well.

“We don’t think the event is going to change the conditions of women in this country. But we do think it’s going to be a very powerful moment of empowerment, especially for the women who are left behind by corporate-leaning feminism,” Arruzza said. “Women are finally waking up. They’re finally fed up — with gender violence, with being marginalized in the workplace, with not having control over their bodies.”

“Nobody else will defend our rights if we don’t do it,”Arruzza finished.

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