The Day without Women: What you need to know

Signs from the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017. Patricia Kozicka

March 8, the day the U.N. has selected as International Women’s Day, has taken on a new name.

The Day Without Women is a similar to a strike – where the goal is to show the “economic power and significance” that women have in the world, according to organizers.

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The strike is supposed to draw attention to the continuing wage gap and the discrimination women see in the workplace around the world.

Wednesday’s event is being organized by the same group who organized the massive Women’s March which took place the day after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

While it’s being organized in the U.S., the people behind the cause are urging it to become a global movement.

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Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay told the Associated Press organizers were inspired by the recent “Day Without an Immigrant” protests held last month. She said the day will demonstrate how women’s paid and unpaid work keeps households, communities and economies running.

“We do all of this and get paid less than men, get sexually harassed, get inadequate family leave,” Findlay said. “We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it.”

There are three requests for those participating:

  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

More than a million people, mostly women, turned out nationwide for the Women’s March, and similar protests were held around the globe.

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It is unknown how many people will participate in the strike, and organizers were quick to point out that only a quarter of people who marched on Jan. 21 signed up in advance.

In Canada, women make up 47 per cent of the work force, according to Statistics Canada census data from 2006. Nurses and teachers are overwhelmingly female (93 per cent and 63 per cent respectively) and could face a crisis if every woman were to take part in the strike.

By contrast, in the management field, women only make up 30 per cent of the workforce.

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In the U.S., the numbers are similar: Women make up 47 per cent of the labour force and are dominant in fields like nursing.

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But one of the fields that is already feeling the effects of the strike is education.

Multiple school districts in the U.S. have pre-emptively closed their schools because of a large amount of people requesting the day off.

Wednesday is now an “optional teacher workday” in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district but officials say the decision to close schools to students was made based on safety, not politics.

“It is my determination that we will not have enough staff to safely run our school district,” a press release from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district in North Carolina read.

Similar sentiments were offered by school districts in Maryland and Virginia.

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Along with highlighting women’s significance to the economy, the day is meant to highlight the wage gap between men and women.

In Canada, women earned 67 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2014, according to Statistics Canada.

In the U.S. women earn only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The median income for women was $40,742 in 2015, compared with $51,212 for men, according to census data.

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Response to the strike has been varied.

Amnesty International praised it, saying it’s proud of those standing up to the Trump administration.

“We are alarmed by the attacks on human rights that we’ve seen in just the first month of the Trump administration, and we proudly stand with millions of people across the U.S. and around the world who refuse to let this government roll back rights that we’ve fought for decades to secure,” Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA wrote in a statement.

But others say it’s not fair to poorer women who are unable to take the day off because they need the money.

“It’s just a big ask,” Palmira Figueroa, an organizer of the Seattle women’s march, told the Associated Press.

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“We also want to be in solidarity with our community, knowing that many who can’t decide tomorrow they can’t work,” she said.

*with files from the Associated Press 

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