PHILADELPHIA (AP) — American women stayed home from work, zipped up their wallets, wore red and joined rallies across the country to demonstrate their economic clout Wednesday as part of International Women’s Day events around the globe.
The Day Without a Woman protest in the U.S. was put together by organizers of the vast women’s marches that were held coast-to-coast the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
School districts including those in Prince George’s County, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, canceled classes because so many teachers and other employees were expected to be out. In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court closed for lack of staff members.
Rallies were planned in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Washington and Berkeley, California. Some businesses and institutions said they would either close or give female employees the day off.
Monique LaFonta Leone, a 33-year-old health care consultant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had to work but put on a red shirt in solidarity 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.”
The U.S. event coincided with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day. Germany’s Lufthansa airline had six all-female crews flying from several cities in the country to Berlin. Sweden’s women’s soccer team replaced the names on the backs of their jerseys with tweets from Swedish women. Finland announced a new $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize. Women also held rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.
In the U.S., spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers of A Day Without a Woman were inspired by the Day Without an Immigrant protest held last month.
Women were urged to take part in local rallies and refrain from shopping in stores or online. 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.
Findlay said the action was aimed at highlighting the importance of women to the country’s socio-economic system and demonstrating how the paid and unpaid work of women keeps households, communities and economies running.
“We provide all this value and keep the system going and receive unequal benefits from it,” she said.
She added that it is important for white women to be in solidarity with minority women: “It’s when women of all backgrounds strike and stand together that we’re really going to see the impact.”
Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a female-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, offered female-centric tattoos with messages like “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — a reference to the recent silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor — for $50 to $100, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
Trump took to Twitter and asked others to join him in “honoring the critical role of women” in the U.S. and around the world. He tweeted that he has “tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”
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.
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.
By ERRIN HAINES WHACK, Associated Press
Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle, Mike Householder in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Michelle Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.