If a day came where all women somehow temporarily disappeared the world would come to an abrupt and messy full stop. I truly believe this. This Wednesday, March 8, 2017, is International Women’s Day, and the Day Without a Woman strike is planned. Women are encouraged to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor, avoid spending money unless it is in/at a women-owned business, and to wear red to shoe solidarity. I really appreciate that the organizers acknowledged that not all women will be able to take the day off, and they have come up with ways that women can be supportive even if they can’t take the day off.
I have given this strike a lot of thought over the last weeks since they announced the plan. I am very conflicted as to whether or not I should take the day off, but I have reached a decision. I will not be taking the day off. I support the strike and all of the women who are able to honor it. I know that it will be a sacrifice for many, and direct actions such as this are so important. The world noticed the Women’s March, and it made a difference. I think that this strike will be similar. However, I work in somewhat unique circumstances.
As a Health Educator I believe that the work I am allowed to participate in is an integral part of the resistance. I know that I am biased in this, but that doesn’t mean that I believe it any less. I work in an organization with around 30 employees. Three of them are men. We also have one male volunteer. There is no doubt in my mind that each one of them is very much aware and sympathetic towards the fact that women are very important in the work we do. The majority of us work directly with clients under the age of 25, most under the age of 19. If we all took the day off a large group of a variety of vulnerable populations would feel the loss. But they already feel so much of the inequality and bias and neglect that the rest of the country exhibits on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, they are strong and they are resilient. We work with extraordinary young people, and I am constantly learning from and awed by them.
And this is exactly why I’m going to work on Wednesday. After our staff meeting, which is as much self-care and support as it is anything else, I’m going to meet with a regular group of 6th grade girls to make art. We’re making boards that represent all of the best things they see in themselves. And it was a struggle for some of them to actually think of positive aspects of themselves. We work on self esteem and confidence and positive thinking. We practice self affirmation and supportive-community building. Many of them don’t have support systems outside of school, and they get to come to group and laugh and have fun and remember that they are loved and that they are important. And I’m going to be there with them.
For all of the women participating in the strike, I support you. For all the women who are unable to strike, I support you. For all the women who haven’t heard about it because they don’t have the privilege or time that I do, I support you. I’m going to be at group just like I am every Wednesday supporting the amazing young women that I have the privilege to work with. Because that’s what this is about for me. Women building women up and making them see just how amazing they are in a world that tries to tell them that they are deficient in so many ways.
We will demand that our voices are heard. We will show the nation that women are invaluable in our efforts to exist in the world and to maybe even make it a better place. We will resist.