A Day Without A Woman: A Chance to Change the World

“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world” –Dolores Huerta

International Women’s Day (IWD) has deep roots in Labor history.  The organizers of the very first IWD in 1908 gathered to honor a protest of women garment workers 50 years prior. More than a hundred years ago, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers recognized that women’s rights are worker’s rights. They knew that when women succeed, so does the world.

Today is no different. We face attacks on the same rights our mothers before us fought for and won as well as new challenges to our demands for a more fair and just world. Just yesterday, House Republicans unveiled their proposal to replace our Affordable Care Act with policies that would put the healthcare of millions of women in jeopardy while giving huge tax breaks to wealthy CEOs. While their disaster of a proposal made headlines, they didn’t stop there. Senate Republicans also voted to take a law off the books that requires federal contractors to abide by worker protection laws related to safety, sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, minimum wage, and overtime.  We know that attacks on all working people disproportionately end up affecting women and non-gender conforming people, compounding the struggles we face every day.

How are women responding? Like our mothers before us, we know that we are more powerful together than alone. Movements led by women are rising up. We are demanding equal pay for equal work, collective bargaining rights, safe workplaces, quality healthcare, childcare, and education & so much more.  Women are at the forefront of the fight for human rights and justice for all. Millions of us took to the streets for a Women’s March on January 21 to raise our voices together. That march helped fuel activism that continues today. We see that activism in every corner of our communities – from thousands showing up to town halls and airports with just a few hours’ notice to countless folks calling their members of Congress daily. We are making history – the kind someone may write about to inspire activism 100 years from now.

This IWD, women worldwide are planning actions to celebrate the contributions of women in our society and to fight for our values. Our sisters who organized the Women’s March are encouraging women & non-gender conforming people and our allies to join March 8: A Day Without a Woman in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

There are also many actions folks can join worldwide and plenty to choose from in California – find one near you here.

The California Labor Federation asked activists if they planned to participate in actions for International Women’s Day. Here are some of their responses:

  • I take action for my Grandpa’s cousins that were murdered at Auschwitz, so that such a thing never happens again.  I take action because I will never fail to speak up against injustice, no matter at whom it is targeted.  I take action on behalf of my unborn daughter, so that our present doesn’t have to be her future.  I take action because it is the right thing to do, and because I care about this Country and am committed to the brightness of its future no matter what impediments we face.  This International Women’s Day, I take action because women’s rights are worker’s rights, and it is up to us to unite and defend those rights tirelessly against all who seek to strike them down.   Together we can, and together we WILL. Julie Lind Rupp, Julie Lind Rupp, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, San Mateo County Central Labor Council
  • I have spent most of my life working and marching for workers rights and women’s rights and I marched again in San Francisco. During my lifetime, I have seen gains in equal pay for equal work. During my lifetime, women have gained more control over our health, our bodies and our lives . I have seen the fight for livable wages bear some fruit – in the face of rampant income inequality.  It has taken over 40 years of my lifetime, but we have made gains in worker safety, access to affordable, quality childcare, equal rights, access to quality, affordable healthcare, dignity at work, workforce training and equal opportunity for all. I marched to stave off the darkness being brought upon us by a President who will reverse the gains of workers and women. I marched to be surrounded by a hundred thousand people who share my vision of dignity, humanity and equality. I marched with my family, to confirm for my children that our values matter and our voice should be heard.And tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, I will wear red for all the same reasons!  – Rayna Lehman, Director, AFL-CIO Community Services, San Mateo County Central Labor Council
  • I will wear Red tomorrow. I believe that a woman is the backbone of the family and the heartbeat of the world!
  • I always tell all of the women in my family that when our grandmother was born here in 1911 (and our other grandmother was born in Mexico in 1912), women were not allowed to vote. It hasn’t even been 100 years yet. And in Mexico it didn’t even happen until 1953. We should cherish our right to vote since we fought so hard for it. Half of my family comes from Ireland through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s, the other half immigrated legally as farm workers in the 1920’s from Mexico. My sisters and I worked in the apricot orchards and tomato fields of Hollister, Ca every summer since we were 5. So I love the picture of Dolores Huerta holding up the strike sign. As youngsters and teenagers in the 60’s and 70’s we were part of that movement. Although I have to work tomorrow because of the flood recovery in San Jose, I will be wearing red in solidarity for IWD. –Joanne Solorio Bartholdy
  • “I support the fight – the fight for women’s rights; for equal pay, for a quality education, for healthy and safe food in our world and so much more. I know my voice matters and I will make my voice heard!” – Charlie Costello, Berkeley, CA

Hope to see you in the streets tomorrow!