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‘A Day Without A Woman’ coincides with International Women’s Day theme

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Signs at the Women's March on Oklahoma in January.
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IWD organization asks ‘Be Bold For Change,’ Women’s March suggests striking

OKLAHOMA CITY – Wednesday marks the 42nd year the United Nations has observed International Women’s Day (IWD), and this year seems to be slightly more important than some years past.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women's March on Jan. 21, March 8 will also be observed as A Day Without a Woman, alongside an International Women’s Strike taking place in more than 30 countries on the same day recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to the socio-economic system – while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity, according to the national Women’s March site.

In observance of A Day Without A Woman, it is encouraged for women to take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor, avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses) and/or wear red in solidarity.

One of the lead organizers of the Women’s March on Oklahoma, and operator of the Facebook page March on Oklahoma, Lindsey Kanaly stated that Oklahoma has decided not to actively participate in the movement.

“Oklahoma is an ‘at will’ employment state,” Kanaly said. “Many women could legitimately lose their jobs for a one day strike. Oklahoma is also one of the lowest paid states for women in the work force, and even lower if you are a woman of color.

“It is not within our mission to ask women to choose between potentially putting food on their table or striking in solidarity. Many women will be able to afford to take off work or shuffle their household duties to someone else, but there are far more women in Oklahoma who simply cannot.

“Those are the women we are standing with. Those are the women who need our support.”

Kanaly believes the meaning behind the movement will be effective regardless of which sister marches, cities, states and women participate or not.

Dawn Spencer, a tour director living in Bay City, Michigan, is not so sure many women feel that this movement will make an impact like the marches did in January simply because there has not been enough advertisement for it.

However, her opinions do line up with Kanaly’s in that she feels only women who can afford to will go on strike for the day.

“A lot of my girlfriends who are well-to-do and who can afford it are taking the day off because they’ve already worked with their bosses,” Spencer said. “I don’t have to leave for work until the 9th” so “I’m pretty much just taking the day off.”

Spencer will be participating by supporting those partaking in strikes and rallies.

Melinda Vaikasiene, a physical therapist in Manassas, Virginia, believes the current political administration has a lot of women on edge, and that’s the cause for A Day Without A Woman.

“Many are worried about women’s rights, the possible changing of Roe v. Wade and the education system,” Vaikasiene said. “It’s a pivotal time right now for women’s rights.”

Due to having many patients throughout the week, Vaikasiene cannot afford to take the day off on Wednesday because “the children would lose.”

“Not to bash the no women at work movement, but can we stand together to work better,” Vaikasiene asked. “Have a voice to work toward fixing legislation, that’s what I do.”

She takes her son with her to Virginia’s Capitol building in Richmond regularly to speak to legislators on specific topics close to their hearts.

“My voice isn’t heard when taking away services to those in need,” Vaikasiene said referring to her patients.

IWD 2017 campaign theme

This year’s theme provided by the IWD organization is Be Bold For Change – to call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

Last year, organizations and individuals around the world supported the Pledge For Parity campaign and committed to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men's contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures. From awareness-raising to concrete action, organizations rallied their people to pledge support to help forge gender parity on IWD and beyond.

But the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. Around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.

Everyone – with women, men and non-binary people joining forces – can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, everyone can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

History of IWD

It all started when National Women's Day was celebrated in United States on February 28, 1909. The Socialist Party of America marked this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against the pathetic working conditions.

In 1910, the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women's Day, to honor the movement for women's rights, including the right to vote in political elections. This proposal was also greeted with unanimous approval by the International Women's Conference that was held in the same year, and had over 100 women from 17 countries.

The International Women's Day was marked for the first time on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It witnessed participation of more than one million women and men who attended the rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, vocational training and an end to discrimination on the job. It caused a major uproar, and witnessed people (irrespective of their gender) coming together to support the movement.

International Women's Day also became a way to protest against World War I. Women held rallies in large numbers across Europe and Russia to express their solidarity with other activists, and denounce the war.

The year of 1917 witnessed another significant movement, women in Russia went on strike for "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on March 8 on the Gregorian calendar). They demanded the end of WWI, Russian food shortages, and downfall of czarism.

Four days later, the czar was finally dethroned, and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.

And from 1975, the United Nations began celebrating on March 8.

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