Wednesday, March 8, International Women’s Day, is also “A Day without A Woman” – an action designed to highlight women’s work and economic significance to their families, workplaces, communities, and the broader economy. If women’s work – paid and unpaid – were truly seen and valued, that alone would be a pathway for ending poverty. Eliminating the wage gap would cut poverty in half for families with a working woman.
The National Women’s Law Center will mark the day by officially closing. We are closing in support of the action, in support of our majority women staff, and with the hope that it will inspire like-minded organizations to do the same.
We did not come to that decision lightly, given our increased need to respond rapidly to the Trump Administration’s many policy proposals and announcements that undermine women’s lives. We also were concerned that the action might come with a steep economic price felt most deeply by the most vulnerable groups of women. Women make up two-thirds of workers in low-wage jobs and most workers in the lowest paid fields lack any sort of paid leave. Some groups of women, including women of color, immigrant women, and LGBTQ individuals, are at a much greater risk of retaliation for engaging in the strike. What’s more, economic security for many women is inherently bound with their families. Indeed, the four out of five African American women who are also family breadwinners know that each economic decision is a family decision.
Fortunately, the organizers for the day – the same dynamic team that brought us the Women’s March – identified a wide range of ways to participate. They recognized that not everyone can simply refuse to engage in paid or unpaid work, given that many simply lack that option. But they also know that economic resistance is a critical part of achieving lasting change. And those who have just enough privilege to refrain from work paid or unpaid should do so. In addition, you can participate by refraining from shopping (except local small businesses that are women-owned) and/or wearing red in solidarity.
This is also an important moment to urge policymakers and workplaces to adopt policies that will advance economic security for women. Fortunately, our extensive resources on this very topic are available that day, even as we close. We urge you to use the day to spend time with our resources on equal pay, on fair wage, paid family and medical leave, high quality child care that is affordable and accessible, accommodations for pregnant workers, schedules that make it possible to work and engage in caregiving, access to health care, reproductive freedom, and more.
A Day Without A Woman is about the economic impact of a single day, but it is our hope that it could spur longer range conversations on the policies that make it possible for women and their families to thrive. We will see you on Thursday!