March 8, 2017 was International Women’s Day, a global event celebrating the achievements of women and bringing to attention the continuous fight for gender equality. Beginning in 1909, thousands of women have marched protesting unequal rights and pay.
To accompany this march, the Women’s March organization created “A Day Without Women” to recognize the impact of women and to create a safe environment for women everywhere. The event follows their beliefs that “women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability.”
On A Day Without Women, people around the world were encouraged to show their support for women. Women were urged to take the day off in protest of unequal pay and in recognition of the impact that women have in the workforce. People involved with the movement wore red, representing “revolutionary love and sacrifice”, to show support for their friends and coworkers,
The International Women’s Strike, which takes place in over 50 different countries, forced employers to imagine what their businesses and offices would look like without women. The strike is intended to promote the many issues that women are facing globally including domestic violence, lack of reproductive freedom, and unequal labor rights.
School districts, such as Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina, closed school on March 8th in anticipation of hundreds of staff absences. By doing so, the school systems displayed their support for their women staff, and made it more convenient for them to participate in local protests and marches.
Schools in Montgomery County also displayed their support for the event. Montgomery Blair HS held a forum on March 8 and Montgomery College hosted a public presentation by distinguished social theorist Patricia Hill Collins.
Local organizations also aimed to show their support for women, such as a Cleveland Bookstore, which flipped all of the male-authored books on its shelves to draw more attention to female authors. Women were also encouraged not to shop on this day, unless it was a small, women, or minority-owned store.
The movement also affected many students, who wore red and helped spread the message via social media. Students in MCPS also started a petition addressed to the superintendent in hopes of cancelling school to support the cause; the petition gained over 6,800 signatures but was unfortunately unsuccessful.
As a result, students and teachers remarked that they didn’t feel comfortable participating in the strike, and were consequently unable to attend many Women’s Day events due to fear of missing work or school. School closings would have allowed staff and students to raise their voices and have their opinions be heard as they participated in the various global events (e.g. Literature fests and marches).
A Day Without Women is a celebration for many, to look at how far women have come in terms of voting rights and gender equality in general. But the fight is long from over and the more awareness is raised about these issues, the closer they will come to being resolved.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Valerie Wang of Richard Montgomery High School