DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of women gathered at the state Capitol on Wednesday for International Women’s Day. The day also evolved into the Day Without A Woman protest in some cities across the globe.
Some Coloradans stayed home from work, joined the rally or wore red to demonstrate their economic clout as part of many events held around the globe.
“We have such issues against women’s rights and against minority rights, it’s important for anyone, any color or sex, to be down here.” said Craig Cline on his decision to attend the women’s rally in Denver.
“It seems like a historic moment where we all need to come together as women and unite.” said Marielle Pulsinelli, a student at Jefferson County Open School, on her decision to skip class and go to the Colorado state Capitol. “Women make up half the population but we’re treated unequal. I think this is to show if we don’t exist in the world things can’t be done and the world has changed a lot and we need to value that fact.”
The demonstrations in the U.S. were organized by those behind the women’s marches on Jan. 21 that drew millions nationwide.
Some businesses and institutions said they would either close for the day or give female employees the day off.
More than 400 teachers in Denver Public Schools were absent. According to DPS, the school district employs more than 4,300 teachers and that is a typical amount absent on any given day.
“I would like to make the connection between how teachers are drastically underpaid for the work that we do and the education that we have that’s linked to a greater issues of gender inequality in terms of equal pay,” said Mariel Waters, a teacher at Noel Community Arts School in Montbello.
Some criticized the strike, warning that many women cannot afford to miss work or find child care. Organizers asked those unable to skip work to wear red in solidarity.
Monique LaFonta Leone, a 33-year-old health care consultant in Colorado Springs had to work but put on a red shirt and donated to charity, including Planned Parenthood.
“I have bills to pay, but I wanted to make my voice heard, no matter how quiet,” she said. “I also wanted to make a statement to say that women are doing it for themselves. We’re out here in the workforce and making a difference every day.”
Women make up more than 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and are dominant among registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists, according to the census.
“We’re just not being treated equally in this country … and we need to stand up and we need to have our voices heard,” said Bri Potts, a Denver rally participant. “We need to be able to go to work every day and not feel like we’re being looked down upon. We need to go into the office and not feel discriminated against. We need to be able to go in and feel safe.”
They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, and the same with lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.
At the same time, American women earn 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.
“We are in love with our country, we are in love with the values of American, and we don’t want to see them go away. It is America the beautiful and it won’t be unless we stand up,” said Helen Shreves, the Denver rally organizer.