On Tuesday afternoon, the activists behind the Women's March on Washington officially announced on social media that they've planned a new action for March 8. The protest is taking place across the country on International Women's Day. This time, they're calling for "a day without a woman." So what is the Women's Strike?
According to a post on its Instagram page, the Women's March on Washington is asking people to stop work, boycott businesses, march and protest for the entire day of March 8 (a Wednesday this year) to show the world that "our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred." This general strike is the Women's March's second mobilization effort in the resistance to President Donald Trump and his administration; the first mass action happened during inauguration weekend, when over 3 million people protested in more than 600 cities across the globe, according to Women in the World. Vogue reports that over 30 countries have agreed to take part in the Women's Strike.
The fact that the Women's Strike will take place the same day as International Women's Day is both symbolic and strategic. International Women's Day, originally called International Working Women's Day, was borne out of the global labor movement actions of the 20th century, and has served as a time to bolster the political and economic participation and rights of women. The Women's March wrote on Instagram:
In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children? ... On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman.
The organizers behind the Women's March first floated the idea of a women's strike in an Guardian op-ed published last week. The idea for the Women's Strike, the group writes, is to unite "women, including trans women" and their allies in "an international day of struggle" that will see people out of work and in the streets protesting against male violence and supporting reproductive rights. The authors, who include activists Angela Davis and Rasmea Yousef Odeh, go on to say that the international general strike aims to include those people "whom lean-in feminism ignored: women in the formal labor market, women working in the sphere of social reproduction and care, and unemployed and precarious working women."
Despite its intentions, the Women's March on Washington has received its fair share of praise and criticism since the organization announced the Women's Strike on Tuesday. Many supporters believe the general strike will send a strong message to businesses and employers that communities oppressed by patriarchy have extreme buying power. Critics, on the other hand, have called the action an example of white privilege because it seemingly ignores the economic realities of hourly and non-unionized employees and low-income families. As one commenter wrote in response to the Women's March's Instagram post:
This action does not support women who don't shop Amazon, can't afford Starbucks, can't afford to miss a day of work.
No matter the side of the aisle you stand, a mass international strike would no doubt send a strong message to Trump and his cronies: You may push us down, but you will not keep us there.