The organizers of the Women’s March have called for today, March 8th (International Women’s Day) to be a celebrated as “A Day Without A Woman. Participation can take place in the following ways:
Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
But what would a day without a woman really look like?
For primary and secondary education the picture is clear: it looks like closed school districts. After receiving over 300 absence requests from employees for the 8th, Alexandra, Virginia’s School System canceled classes for the day. Similarly, North Carolina’s Chapel Hill–Carrboro City School District, where women make up 75 percent of the employees, decided to close schools on the day in anticipation of large absences. And these percentages are not anomalies. According to 2011-2012 date from the National Center for Education Statistics, more than three-quarters of public school teachers were women.
In higher education, women are 44 percent of full-time faculty members, and anywhere between 51 and 62 percent of contingent faculty. Additionally, women faculty, and particularly scholars of color, provide the bulk of service work and emotional labor in academia. Although there are no reports of universities canceling all classes for today, campuses around the country are holding walk-outs and teach-ins, while others are encouraging faculty to cancel classes on a case-by-case basis.
But education is not the only area in which women make up such a high percentage of workers. According to 2014 data from the Department of Labor, women compose over 75 percent of workers in the following professions:
- Janitors and building cleaners
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
- Personal care aides
- Social workers
- Financial managers
- Waiters and waitresses
- House cleaners
- Retail salespersons
- Office clerks
- Administrative support workers
- Customer service representatives
- Secretaries and administrative assistants
At least we know that the local and national U.S. government will be alright during the strike. In the U.S., women still make up only 19.4 percent of Congress, 25 percent of state legislatures, and 20 percent of mayors.
All joking aside, whether or not you are participating the strike today, ask yourself what #ADayWithoutAWoman would look like in your life.
Gwendolyn Beetham is the Assistant Editor at University of Venus and the Director of the Global Village at Douglass Residential College, the women's college at Rutgers University.
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