Why A ‘Day Without a Woman’?

Organizers explain a strike’s international roots, and its purpose

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International Women’s Day, Wednesday March 8, has a new kind of energy this year: Women are planning a general strike, all around the world. And a number of New Yorkers plan to join in, via a sister event, a “Day Without a Woman.” They plan to make their presence known by not showing up for work and not shopping.

How large the International Women’s Strike will be is hard to tell, but organizers say planning is underway in more than 50 cities in the U.S. and 30 countries around the world. Here in the U.S., the “Day Without a Woman” is being organized by some of the groups that launched the Women’s March in Washington D.C. last January.

Some of the New York organizers, however, stress the event’s international roots. “In New York, we’ve really been inspired by the calls of our comrades in Argentina and Latin America’s Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) campaign against gendered violence,” said Magally Miranda, a teacher from Brooklyn and one of the strike’s local organizers in New York. The Ni Una Menos campaign started in Argentina after a recent wave of murders of women. According to La Casa del Encuentro, a local NGO, at least one woman dies because of gender violence in Argentina every 30 hours.

For Miranda, violence against women is an issue in the U.S. as well, and she notes that it often affects immigrants, many of whom are women, at the workplace. But gender violence is not the only issue energizing the strike. Among other causes of the day are labor rights, including equal pay for women; reproductive rights; and a general pushback against misogyny.

In New York, according to the International Women’s Strike website, people will be invited to attend workshops, talks, rallies, and conferences throughout the day. And, as a gesture of solidarity, to wear red.

Klementyna Sushanov is the global coordinator who started the International Women’s Strike from Warsaw, Poland, where she’s from. She said she was inspired by a strike against the criminalization of abortions in Poland last year as well as the protests that took place in Argentina about the same time last fall. She said the strike will bring together various groups and causes. “It’s very open, it’s very flexible,” Sushanov said. “There are no requirements for a group to join, just the solidarity of standing by women. That’s the reason why there are global reasons to protest and also local reasons to each city.”

Kamene Ogidi, Bed Stuy, is an example of the variety of reasons people seem to have to join the strike. For her, the protest isn’t even primarily about women. “It’s about power,” she said. “and in order for me to have any power, in order for my friends—we must come together again and again in new configurations until we stay together. This strike is important because it is another small iteration of the kind of direction we need to go.”

Meanwhile Kate Griffiths, another local organizer, said she hopes people will use the day to “support the women in your life.”

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