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Two local women – Kathleen May and Sandra Smith – are encouraging other women to join them in the International Women’s Strike on March 8, a day being organized in by women in communities around the world in a show of economic solidarity.
May and Smith participated in the Women’s March on Washington and the strike carries forward a similar theme: speaking out against misogyny, economic inequality, and violence against women, and supporting reproductive and LGBTQ rights, among others.
“This strike is about forcing our society to recognize the true value of women for ALL we contribute and to say we’ve had enough of inequality and gender discrimination,” said the organizers, noting that women on average make 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man, the ever-increasing poorest population in Canada are single mothers, some women still face discrimination and harassment in the workplace, many women still do the majority of unpaid labour at home, women do not have access to affordable, universal childcare, and violence against women is perpetrated again and again.
The strike forces people to ask, ‘what is the value of a woman?’ If all women walked off the job and stopped spending what they earn, what would the world look like? In answer to those questions, strike organizers suggest that women:
- Take the day off from paid labour (if they can afford to) and unpaid labour
- Reduce their productivity or create a form of work-to-rule if they can’t afford to take the day off
- Avoid shopping for one day (except at small businesses owned by women)
- Wear red in solidarity with A Day Without a Woman and tell others why they are wearing red
“If all women do this together, supporting each other, we can make a huge difference,” wrote Smith on the event’s Facebook page. “Even larger workplaces, like your local grocery store, superstore, or restaurants…the large majority of employees are women! Imagine if each woman were to walk off the job and/or refuse to participate in unpaid labour? Businesses would have to close unless they are maybe lucky enough to access to enough male employees. Men would shoulder the responsibility of trying to figure out childcare or maybe have to step up and find out what it’s like to be have all the unpaid labour fall on them… This is about valuing women equally for the role they play in our society. This strike is about showing our society just how important and valuable everything women do is and how much our society relies on women being paid and treated less than their male counterparts. Just like Iceland did decades ago, when women stand together we make a difference.”
May and Smith have organized an afternoon rally at Civic Square in front of the Algonquin Theatre on March 8 from 1pm-5pm. The agenda is as follows:
1:00pm Pick up chant lyrics, make your own protest signs, sign a petition and enjoy hot chocolate
1:15pm Introduction and welcome
2:00pm Kathleen May, “The past, present and future of the local and global women’s movement”
2:30pm Strike Q&A
3:00pm Sandra Smith, “What inequality means for women”
3:30pm Christina Hutt, musician
4:00pm Lauren Power, Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services, “Culture of silence and shame”
4:45pm Christina Hutt, musician
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