The world would be a scary place without the work that women contribute. In addition to making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women complete an immeasurableÂ amount of unpaid domestic labor as caretakers, while black women, in particular, make upÂ one of the fastest growing segments of business ownership in the country.
Yet, these contributions to society often go unrecognized, as women are often underpaid. On top of workplace inequality, women are more likely to be subject to sexual harassment, and they are facing legislative rollbacks that threaten to limit their reproductive rights.
The ‘Day Without a Woman’ Campaign
To bring these issues to light, women across the country are refusing to do any work today. Instead, they are participating in “A Day Without a Woman,” a national campaign aimed to highlight the crucial role women play in the U.S. economy andÂ abroad. It is also a strike to fight back against gender-based inequality, violence, and discrimination.
Organized by the women behind the history-making Women’s March in January, A Day Without A Woman encourages women to stay home from their jobs and take a break from their routineÂ domestic duties–like household chores and caregiving. Those who couldn’t get the day off from work are encouraged toÂ wear red in solidarity and avoid shopping at all companies outside of small women and minority-owned businesses.
A Day Without A Woman was intentionally planned to be heldÂ on March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day. This is also the day when millions of women’s rights advocates in more than 30 countriesÂ around the world areÂ partaking in theÂ International Women’s Strike.
How Can Allies Show Support?
Business owners can support this cause by giving their female employees the day off from work. Meanwhile, husbands and boyfriends can show support by doingÂ chores on behalf of their wives and partners.
The Cost of a Day Without Women
ResearchÂ published by the Center for American Progress shows that the U.S. would not be able to function if all paid female workers simultaneously take one day off from work. If that happened, it would cost the country nearly $21Â billion in gross domestic product (GDP).
The study, which is titledÂ A Day in the U.S. Economy Without Women, also found that women’s labor contributes $7.6Â trillion to theÂ U.S. each year. But women’s work expands beyond paid labor. If the GDP were to include all of the unpaid domestic work primarily performed by women, then that number would increase by 26%.
“Women have long played a vital role in the economy, but women’s earnings and economic contributionsÂ are becoming more and more essential,â€ saidÂ Kate Bahn, who is an economist at CAPÂ and co-author of the analysis, in a press release sent to Black Enterprise. “However, due to occupational segregation and the devaluation of jobs that women disproportionately hold, outdated labor standards, and insufficient work-family policies, women in the United States aren’t able to meet their full economic potential.â€
In addition to calling for respect for their labor, activists are alsoÂ using A Day Without A Woman to push lawmakers to pass policies that support women and mothers like paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave, and access to quality, affordable child care.