Here’s What a Day Without Women Will Actually Look Like
In January, women across the world came out in droves to march in protest against President Donald Trump. But on March 8, women hope to make another point by not showing up at all.
On Wednesday, women and men across the U.S. will participate in A Day Without A Woman—a movement that seeks to show the vital role women play in both the domestic and global economy. It also aims to bring attention to the lower wages, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity that women often face.
Those taking part are encouraged to take the day off from paid or unpaid labor, avoid shopping for one day (though they may make an exception for small, women or minority-owned businesses), and wear red—which, according to Tamika Mallory, a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, was chosen because “it signifies love and sacrifice, and is the color of energy and action.”
The event coincides with International Women’s Day (IWD), as well as the more globally-focused International Women’s Strike (IWS). Mallory says that A Day Without Woman supports both IWD and IWS, but that the inspiration for the movement came from the Feb. 16 Day Without Immigrants strike, as well as the Yemeni-American-lead bodega shutdown in New York City.
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While it’s too soon to know what economic effect the strike might have, significant participation could make an impact—after all, women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and influence about 73% of all household spending.
“Corporate leaders understand the impact of shoppers, especially women, pulling back their support,” Mallory says, citing the Grab Your Wallet movement, an anti-Trump boycott. “The sacrifice of a day will send a resounding message to our administration, corporations that support the administration, and any other influencers. We are prepared to make serious sacrifices to ensure our democracy is upheld.”
The Arab-American Association of New York is closing down on Wednesday in solidarity. Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the group and a co-founder of the Women’s March, tells Fortune that she and her 16 female employees want to make a political statement.
“We want to show solidarity with all women, but especially to those in the community that have been directly impacted by this administration,” she says. “There is no alternative service here [in Bay Ridge]. We see this as a strong opportunity to say that we exist, we are here, and that our women provide.”
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is one of the largest Arab-American communities in America, let alone in the state of New York, Sarsour says. The non-profit association provides free legal immigration services, bilingual caseworker assistance, citizenship classes, and after-school tutoring.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina—a school district that is made up of three high schools, four middle schools, and 11 elementary schools—is also closing in light of A Day Without a Woman. The decision was made after the district found that a significant number of staff plan to strike in solidarity with the movement.
“While the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools values and supports its female employees, the decision to close schools is not a political statement,” reads a statement released by the district. “It is entirely about the safety of students and the district’s inability to operate with a high number of staff absences.”
A Day Without a Woman goes beyond making an economic impact. According to Bob Bland, another co-chair of the Women’s March, March 8 is also intended to spotlight the “role that women not only have in paid labor, but also in unseen labor.” That includes the “emotional labor” that women often expend as caretakers, mothers, wives, and beyond, says Bland.
Katie Haslup, an 8th grade science teacher in her 30s who lives in Maryland, plans on participating in the movement. Though she’s not taking off from work, Haslup tells Fortune that she, along with her son and daughter, plan to wear red and abstain from shopping. What’s more, she’s also using the day to teach her students about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Teaching her students about this, according to Haslup, is “a way to show solidarity to the cause in a meaningful way.”
“I actually rallied my entire team of science teachers in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to set our plans aside and focus on the same thing for that day,” she says.
Kathleen Sweeney, 55, also plans to participate. She says that she was inspired to take part in a Day Without a Woman came after she and some college friends walked in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and that she hopes to help represent those who are unable to join in for monetary reasons.
“There are so many women who can’t afford to take the day off for any reason,” she tells Fortune. “I think economic inequality is shameful—both pay inequality, and the lack of sick time and support systems for low income women with children.”
As of 2015, women made 80 cents for every dollar a man earned—a discrepancy that represents a 20% wage gap.
Though she has a white-collar job, Sweeney comes from a union family, she says—adding that she’s aware of the impact a strike can have, “both practically and symbolically.”
But the strike on Wednesday isn’t just for women. Even on the Women’s March website it says that “anyone, anywhere,” can join in.
That’s partly why Steve Ducey, 34, wants to take part. Ducey, who lives in Los Angeles, is an actor, part-time restaurant server, and now, “increasingly so, an activist,” he tells Fortune.
Ducey, who attended the Women’s March in LA with his wife, says the protest, “thrust me out of my despondency and on to an exciting new chapter in my life.”
The peacefulness of the Women’s March, Ducey says, also inspired him to take part in a Day Without a Woman. He plans to support the cause by not spending money and not working. He also says he will attend the rally at the downtown LA Federal building that evening.
Though organizers hope the strike will make a statement, Mallory says it’s just the beginning.
“One strike, one gathering, isn’t going to result in all our wants in society changes. We have to continue preserving our democracy,” she says. “We’re fighting on so many different fronts. Women, and people in general, are taking bold moves to ensure our voices are being heard across a large spectrum.”
Bland echoed this sentiment. “There is so much systematic misogyny that is intertwined with xenophobia and racism in this country,” she says. “This movement transcends politics.”