The Women’s March following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January was an unprecedented event — more than 3 million people protested the anticipated assault on women’s rights and, more broadly, prejudice of all kinds.
It set the stage for a powerful public check on the presidency.
But as the organizers insisted at the time, the protest had to be a “marathon, not a sprint.” Civic pressure has to be enduring, forceful, and widespread to make a difference.
After all, not long after taking office, the Trump administration enacted a “global gag rule” that denies funding to any overseas organization that provides or promotes abortion services.
And on March 8, the US will see what it’s like to have a “Day Without Women.”
This also happens to be International Women’s Day. Throughout the international day of solidarity, women across the US will go on strike, refusing to go to work.
As the Women’s March organizers wrote in a statement on Instagram:
“In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?”
In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children? We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing more information on what actions on that day can look like for you. In the meantime, we are proud to support Strike4Democracy's #F17 National Day of Action to Push Back Against Assaults on Democratic Principles. This Friday, February 17th, gather your friends, families, neighbors, and start brainstorming ideas for how you can enhance your community, stand up to this administration, integrate resistance and self-care into your daily routine, and how you will channel your efforts for good on March 8th. Remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. #DayWithoutAWoman #WomensMarch
Read More: Why Women Matter Now
The National Women’s Liberation is one of the groups spearheading the strike, which is expected to span all 50 states.
"We have to reignite a serious, militant women's liberation movement again, with positive demands," Candi Churchill, an organizer for NWL in Florida told Mic. "I don't want to be defensive for the next four years. I want to talk about paid leave and putting an end to racial and sexual assault. And to do that, we have to recognize our collective power."
The demands of the strike include a $15 minimum wage, universal access to birth control, nationalized health care, free child care, paid parental leave, expanded social security, and an end to all forms of bigotry.
Depending on turnout, the strike has the potential to cause serious economic losses.
There are more than 73 million women in the US workforce. Millions of more women perform unpaid, domestic labor.
The women’s strike calls on all women to resist and if only a small fraction participate, then the economy will be disrupted. In fact, NWL is hoping for a pledge from 20,000 women.
Men are invited to participate in the strike as well, but the organizers encourage men married or living with women to first do more work around the house to free up women to strike.
Women are rising up in other countries as well. In Argentina, Poland, Iceland, and France, women have protested in large numbers in recent months — protesting femicide, abortion restrictions, and the pay gap, respectively.
The rationale for a strike is simple: workers and citizens have more leverage and are more protected when they collectively challenge the demands of those in power. When united, citizens are better shielded from retaliation — an employer is rarely going to fire all his employees in one fell swoop. By disrupting economic activity, employers and politicians will feel compelled to at least listen to the demands of those striking.
Ultimately, the strike aims to raise collective consciousness — when a person feels bound to fates of her fellow humans, then the potential for creating meaningful social change grows exponentially. And when this happens, a living wage, free childcare, universal health care, and respect for all citizens no longer seem like unrealistic goals.
Instead, they become eminently possible.