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Identity & Community

With March In Rearview, Women Nationwide To Walk Out For ‘A Day Without A Woman’

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
A Pittsburgh woman holds up a sign reading, "I am a woman," at the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Organizers of the January Women's March are calling for women to take the day off and encouraging them not to spend money Wednesday to show their economic strength and impact on American society.

"A Day Without a Woman" is the first national action by organizers since the nationwide marches held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration that drew millions of women into the streets in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression.

Wednesday's event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women's Day, and organizers say they want to "stand with women around the globe" who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with 673 similar protests in cities around the world.

Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers were inspired by the recent "Day Without an Immigrant" protests held last month. She said the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country's socioeconomics system and demonstrating 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."

Unlike the Women's March, Wednesday's protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.

Pittsburgh organizers plan to host a rally downtown in front of the City-County Building at 4 p.m. and encouraged women who can't take a whole work day off to leave at 3:08 p.m. to still show solidarity

It is unclear how many women could participate in the action.

Estimates show between 3.3 and 4.6 million people, mostly women, turned out for Women's Marches in cities across the U.S., plus dozens of others around the world. But that event was on a Saturday.

This time, school districts including Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina, have canceled classes in anticipation of employee participation.

Some businesses have said they will either close or give female employees the day off. The event website provides templates for "out of office" emails and an employer letter. The site had more than a half-million visitors, and more than 60,000 had clicked on the letter template as of Tuesday afternoon.

Organizers pointed out that only one-fourth of the eventual attendees to the Women's March on Washington signed up in advance to participate.

The role of women in American society is significant.

According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce and are dominant in such professions as registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists. They make up at least one-third of physicians and surgeons, as well as lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.

Still, American women continue to be paid less than men, earning 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.