By Christin “Cici” Battle, Dawn Huckelbridge, and the women of People For
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day with roots in the civil, labor, immigrant rights, suffrage, and peace movements worldwide. The day has taken on different meaning for different communities and people – just as the identity of “woman” does. And this year, a global coalition – including the organizers of the Women’s March – have chosen to mark it as “A Day Without a Woman,” an opportunity to demonstrate the real impact of women’s work and contributions by asking women-identifying and gender nonconforming workers to withhold their paid and unpaid labor for one day. This day follows the “A Day Without an Immigrant” action on February 16 that brought attention to the critical contributions of immigrants across the county.
We recognize the conflict, complexities, and privilege of calling for a global women’s strike. We realize that for some women it could be a paid vacation day or an easy shifting of family responsibilities, while for others taking a day off could mean losing their job; for many women, especially for women of color, not working, whether in a place of employment or in the home, is simply not an option. We acknowledge the inequities not just between men and women but between women. But we also recognize the deep history of economic resistance in our movement, and the power that organized actions can have. Women’s rights and dignity are under attack from our newly elected President and federal government, and many statehouses across the country, in deeply disturbing and dangerous ways.
As an organization, People For has chosen to act in solidarity with those of us observing A Day Without a Woman however we choose. Many of our employees will be refraining from work today. As our Young People For program noted, “We recognize that this form of resistance is a privilege, and we encourage the folks in our network to resist in the ways that are best for them.” We support this action because we know that far too often, women’s work is unrecognized and undervalued.
Women face a persistent wage gap, even when controlling for education or industry or other factors. Women often face pregnancy discrimination and lack of paid family leave. By some estimates, one in four women face sexual harassment in the workplace. Women face double shifts and unpaid care work in the home. And too often, women are simply not seen. Our voices aren’t heard in a meeting. We’re not offered a seat at the table. Often we do the work in the background, behind the scenes, in the home, to keep the wheels turning.
At People For, we are proud of the contributions of women in all areas of our work. Women lead our policy and programmatic work. Women lead our African American ministerial alliances. Women manage our training and leadership development programs. Women oversee our fundraising. Women lead and serve on our board of directors. Simply put: without women, there would be no People For.
So today, we thank women for the work we do – for the women of People For; for all the women who form the backbone, the leadership, and the organizing power of the progressive movement; for our mothers, sisters, partners, daughters. We hope for a future where all women’s work is equally seen, protected, and valued.