On Wednesday, March 8, women around the country joined in the resistance by not participating in everyday life for the whole day. The day was used to symbolize how much of a role women play in our society, and to show how it would function (or not function) without them. Much like “A Day Without Immigrants,” the day without women asked women around the country to take the day off from work, avoid shopping (exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses), and wear red to show solidarity even if they couldn’t participate in the first two conditions.
If all of the women in the world had decided to take the day off, it would have taken a real toll on the everyday function of businesses, schools (including universities), governmental activities, and many more necessary jobs. According to World Bank data, around 49 percent of the world population is female. In the US, the female population is a little higher at 50.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau. On the University of Maryland’s campus, women make up around 47 percent of the undergraduate student population and around 48 percent of graduate student population. For faculty, women make up around 40 percent, and for staff, 55 percent are women.
“I think in theory it was a great way to promote awareness for women’s rights and gender equality globally,” junior communications and anthropology student Hannah Grimes said.
“However, I think it was more skewed towards women who had the luxury of being able to afford a lost day of work, or could afford to pay for child care. I wore a red sweatshirt during the day out of support, though.”
All around the world, women took off from work, shopped at these small, women- and minority-owned businesses, and/or wore red to show their solidarity if they could not participate in the other ways. These strikes caused entire counties to close schools for the day. Prince George’s County Public Schools closed schools Wednesday following over 1,500 teachers and 30 percent of transportation staff requesting the day off. Alexandria County Public Schools in Virginia also decided to close schools due to around 300 staff members requesting the day off.
Additionally, many prominent companies took public stances supporting the movement and their employees who may want to take the day off. Netflix released a video for the event, MTV ran an ad series all day on TV promoting the protest and changed their logo for the day as well, and Microsoft said in a statement to Forbes that “We respect the beliefs of all of our employees and encourage them to participate in activities they are passionate about, including the events taking place tomorrow.”
However, UMD didn’t seem as into the idea of shutting down school for women (and men) who may have wanted to participate. The university provost, Mary Ann Rankin, wrote in an email to faculty reminding them of their expectation to hold classes rather than follow in the footsteps of area teachers who requested leave.
“I think [not allowing faculty to take off] is unfair,” Grimes said. “Employees should be able to decided how and when they use their days off.”
So how did some members of the University of Maryland community participate in the day without women?
Students and faculty gathered on the Mall to strike
The Board and Brew offered free coffee to women on the go
The Women’s Studies department closed Wednesday
The day attracted rallies around the country for women and men to express their concerns over topics like reproductive health, the pay gap, and equal rights and opportunities for all.