First came the march, then came the strike.
The Women’s March on Washington, the day after Trump’s inauguration, became an international movement, exceeding the expectations of even the most optimistic of supporters. In London, organisers were expecting 20,000 people, instead, over 100,000 men, women, and children (plus the occasional four-legged furry friend) showed up to march for the rights of all women.
Groups and communities are putting emphasis on ensuring that the momentum of the march becomes more than a moment, but a movement. There was no doubt that the organisers of the Women’s March on Washington had this in mind in the days leading up to, and after the march itself. While a strike was unexpected by some, it has the possibility of having a wider impact than even the January 21st march had. International Women’s Day was an obvious choice for the next day of action.
The strike shows the importance of female workers to the economy and every industry. One of the obvious issues that the strike will hope to bring attention to is the gender pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research revealed that in 2015, women made 80 cents to the dollar in comparison to their male equivalent. The figures only become more shocking once compared to women who belong to ethnic or religious minorities. Black women earned 63.3 cents to the dollar in comparison to their white male equivalents, and for Hispanic or Latino women, this drops to 54 cents.
The Institute revealed that at the current rate, it would take until 2059 for the pay gap to close between men and women; the date would no doubt be significantly further for trans-women, black women and all women who belong to ethnic or religious minorities. By 2059, I’ll be turning 64, and there is no way I’m letting my daughters or granddaughters grow up in a world where being a woman seems a valid excuse for employers to pay them less than their male counterparts.
This is only one of the countless reasons why taking part in this strike is important.
On Facebook and other forms of social media, I’ve seen concern for and from women who are stay-at-home mothers, or who can’t afford to miss a day at work. Women in essential positions, such as doctors and members of the police service, are unlikely to be able to take full action on the strike day. How can they contribute to the day? The list is endless, and it is important that we make an effort to ensure that women in these situations are made to feel included in the movement on this day (and every day).
Educate a friend or a colleague at work, let them know about the movement, what it means to you and why it matters.
If you can, consider donating to a woman’s charity. If you donate to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name, then you can be my new best friend.
Sign petitions, and keep signing them. Here are some that I would recommend:
“The Acton FGM Community Clinic will be forced to close after March as it has lost it’s funding. The clinic is a specialist service dedicated to help women who are suffering the mental and physical health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation.”
“Body autonomy for the people of Northern Ireland should not be subject to financial constraints; the cultural climate created by our outdated law encourages women to endanger themselves and encourages shame and stigmatization.”
Write to your MP or local representative. If you’re not sure how to contact your MP, then this page offers some sound advice. If you’re unsure as to who exactly your MP is, then feel free to use this website to check. If you’re in the US or another country, it should be fairly similar.
Pick up a pin or button from Etsy and wear it to bring awareness. A lot of the small businesses on Etsy are offering a portion, or all, of the profits from their sales to Planned Parenthood. I purchased this one myself, but a simple search on Etsy is sure to find one that meets your tastes. If you have one of the now iconic pink pussy hats, then pull it back out again (in fact, get it on your head as much as possible), or consider knitting a few to drop off to others or sell for those of us without the talent.
Educate yourself. Pick a policy or an issue that is close to your heart, or something that you’re not overly familiar with and research. Educate yourself, then use that the educate someone else and raise awareness to your chosen issue.