A Day Without a Woman excludes low-income workers

On International Women’s Day, March 8, women around the world participated in the A Day Without a Woman general strike.

Women were encouraged to take the day off from all paid and unpaid labor to shop only at local, minority-owned businesses. They were also encouraged to wear red in solidarity with other women as part of an effort to raise awareness for the relatively lower wages and greater job insecurity women face.

In New Orleans, between 40 and 50 women gathered in Jackson Square to attend a rally for the day, a much smaller number than the attendance at the Women’s March in January, which was organized by the same group. Despite the success of women’s strikes in Poland and Sweden, many in the United States criticize the movement for being elitist, as the burden of the strike adversely affected the poor.

When Chapel Hill-Carrboro City announced that school would be canceled on March 8 because so many teachers planned on striking, it forced parents to either take time off to watch their children or pay for care. The strike also led to school closures in Alexandria, Virginia, which were not announced until the night before. This cancellation left parents with little time to find care for their children. Furthermore, participation in the strike was also divided along socioeconomic lines with women in lower-paying jobs less able to strike for a day.

Women are more likely to work part-time jobs or live below the poverty line than men, making striking difficult for some women. For instance, many restaurant workers argued that they could not afford to take a day off from work because they rely on tips to make a living.

Though organizers of the demonstration offered alternative ways of participating for women who could not strike, their lack of consideration for others who may be affected by the strike, such as parents, created negative externalities for people already disadvantaged by their socioeconomic situation.

Other recent women’s movements face criticism for being exclusionary, especially the Women’s March, which did not allow anti-abortion feminist organizations to serve as partners, despite their shared views on other issues, causing many anti-abortion women to feel unwelcome.

There were also disagreements between feminists of different races, as white feminists felt alienated by black feminists’ decisions to focus on issues affecting the black community. Additionally, the vagina-centric nature of many signs and costumes at feminist marches excludes women with different genitalia.

All of these conflicts and criticisms reveal how the current feminist movement struggles to be adequately intersectional and often overlooks the needs of different groups of women. For A Day Without a Woman and other protests like it to be successful, feminist leaders must listen to the needs and concerns of all women, regardless of class, race, religion or creed and take precautions to avoid further excluding already excluded and disadvantaged groups.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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