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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"A Day Without a Woman" women's strike hits New Orleans March 8

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 12:10 PM

click to enlarge A demonstrator with a "Nothing Without Women" sign at the Jan. 21 Women's March New Orleans. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • A demonstrator with a "Nothing Without Women" sign at the Jan. 21 Women's March New Orleans.

If you see a woman wearing red tomorrow, take note. She may be a participant in A Day Without a Woman, the national strike called by the organizers of the January Women's March that took over cities nationwide and drew an estimated 10,000 people to a New Orleans march to protest President Donald Trump and his administration.

On International Women's Day (March 8), organizers have called for women to abstain from working (both paid and unpaid labor, which includes the so-called "second shift" of housekeeping and child care that often disproportionately falls on women); to avoid spending money; and to wear red to demonstrate solidarity with the event.

"[We] recogniz[e] the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system — while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity," the group said in a statement. "Let's raise our voices together again, to say that women’s rights are human rights."

In New Orleans, the Louisiana Socialist Network (LSN) is one of a few groups advocating for the strike, which follows other actions such as the Feb. 17 Strike4Democracy and "A Day Without Immigrants" which shuttered several stores and restaurants around the city. Such events are designed to flex economic muscle in response to a presidential administration opponents describe as hostile to women, as well as immigrants, people of color, Muslims, gender-non-conforming people, workers, sick people and people in poverty (all groups which, of course, include women).

LSN Member Ryan McGehee says the strike will highlight the contributions of women who make up close to half the national workforce, while encouraging nascent activism.

"[Strikes are] a powerful weapon that we're not exposed to a lot," he says. "Maybe we can start talking about strikes and get that idea out there, so we can start laying the groundwork to make them more successful in the future."

A Day Without a Woman differs from traditional strikes in that it's not targeted toward a specific employer, and doesn't require a strike notice to be sent employers with a list of demands. But McGehee thinks it could be a meaningful way for a growing number of people to engage with provocative activist tactics beyond marching.

"Strikes are most impactful as mass or collective movements ... [but] for most people they've never been on a strike. So however they do it, however they're introduced to it, that could be a really cool experience and first step," he says.

McGehee points out that strikes can be much more powerful than the boycotts which have been called for by Trump supporters and detractors, because you have more power as a worker than as a consumer — ultimately it's workers who create the products which drive the contemporary economy, he says.

Other cities are preparing for the absence of women's labor in their workplaces tomorrow. In Alexandria, Virginia, public schools are closed tomorrow as 300 of its staff members go on strike. A few schools also are closed in New York City and in a North Carolina school district.

Though McGehee doesn't expect a large strike in New Orleans, he predicts this may be early stages of a larger movement advocating for worker's rights and human rights, which is partially a response to widespread objections to the president. The LSN is contemplating holding union-building workshops to take advantage of recent progressive momentum.

For workers who cannot afford to strike tomorrow (a very valid concern for many in New Orleans), McGehee suggests finding another way to show solidarity. This could mean supporting the actions of striking employees, bringing your lunch instead of buying it or reaching out to activist groups.

"The level of mobilization is escalating," McGehee says. "People are ready to get out on the streets and demand changes. We need to start training folks on how to do that."

Are you striking tomorrow? Drop us a line and let us know.

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