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A Day Without a Woman serves important purpose


March 8, 2017

A Day Without a Woman was billed as a day where “women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people,” according to womensmarch.com.

Womensmarch.com, the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, used International Women’s Day as the next step to show support and allegiance for women through a “demonstration of economic solidarity.”

What this meant was that women were asked to not participate in any paid or unpaid labor inside or outside of the home on the day of Wednesday, March 8. In addition to refraining from labor, womensmarch.com also asked women to avoid shopping everywhere except for small businesses owned by women or minorities, and to wear the color red in support of all women.

A Day Without a Woman was meant to be another demonstration to further unify all women and highlight the issues of lower wages, discrimination, sexual harassment and oppression. However, A Day Without a Woman was also criticized as being an elitist protest. There were many voices online that pointed out how unfair it was to ask women to take a day off when one day off of work, paid or otherwise, could have detrimental consequences for them.

I was fortunate enough to not be scheduled to work on Wednesday, and therefore did not have to worry about losing my job if I decided not to show up to work. I also did not have to worry about not participating in any labor inside the home, because I do not have kids and because I still live at home. Living at home means that I am still the dependent who always has food to eat and people around to feed and look after my cats – my main priority besides myself.

My mom, who is well-established in her career, also did not have trouble taking the day off of work, inside or outside the home. This was mainly because she has a great support system in my dad and because my mom no longer has young children to constantly care for. Basically, it was easy for the two of us to give ourselves the day off. However, for many other women, it is so much more difficult.

Single mothers, people who have no support system, women who are supporting themselves, their kids or their family by working minimum wage jobs or women who are the primary caregivers for children or family members do not have the same flexibility as I do. Taking a day off of work, in an office or at home, means that they could be fired or that they could lose money that is essential to their life or that a loved one goes without necessary care.

A Day Without a Woman was created to raise awareness and be a cause for the very women who cannot afford to participate in the movement designed for them. However, I want to point out that just because my mom was able to easily participate in A Day Without a Woman does not mean she is not affected by discrimination, lower pay or oppression. She experiences it less than most, but she is still affected.

A Day Without a Woman is so essential, and it should not be labeled as an elitist movement. The very fact that it is so difficult for women to remove themselves and their contributions to the lives of others at work or at home proves that this movement is so crucial.

I wish every woman was able to take themselves away from work inside and outside the home so that the people around them could realize the gap left by women and everything we bring to the table, professionally and personally.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.