By Eli Kerry
Amongst the rise in hate crimes in On March 8, Willamette students and staff assembled in Smullin to march through campus and the Capitol as part of the nationwide A Day Without a Woman protest to raise awareness of issues such as civil liberties, reproductive rights and economic inequality.
The event fell on International Women’s Day and coincides with the more globally-focused International Women’s Strike.
Women were encouraged to participate in A Day Without a Woman by taking the day off from paid and unpaid labor, including the “invisible labor” of childcare, housework and emotional support that women are disproportionately held responsible for. Women were also encouraged to avoid shopping for the day, with exceptions for local women – and minority-owned businesses.
Those in solidarity with the movement were encouraged to wear red. “It signifies love and sacrifice, and is the color of energy and action,” Women’s March on Washington co-chair Tamika Mallory said.
Mallory said that although A Day Without a Woman supports both International Women’s Day and the International Women’s Strike, it was inspired by the Day Without Immigrants strike which took place on Feb. 16, as well as the bodega shutdown in New York City which was led by Yemeni-American store owners.
“Corporate leaders understand the impact of shoppers, especially women, pulling back their support,” said Mallory. “The sacrifice of a day will send a resounding message to our administration, corporations that support the administration and any other influencers. We are prepared to make serious sacrifices to ensure our democracy is upheld.”
Amongst the large group of Willamette students and staff who participated in the protest, almost all wore red and carried signs as they marched through many of the non-residential buildings on campus during regular class time in the early afternoon.
The protesters chanted a wide variety of slogans on their path through Smullin, Eaton, the University Center and both the Olin and Collins Science Centers, with some students leaving their classes in those buildings to join the march. However, the protesters were not allowed to carry their signs or chant in the Oregon State Capitol building and instead walked through it in silence.
Some organizations around the country closed down on account of the national A Day Without a Woman strike, such as the Arab-American Association of New York, a nonprofit association serving one of the largest Arab-American communities in the United States.
“We wanted to show solidarity with all women, but especially to those in the community that have been directly impacted by this administration,” says Linda Sarsour, the group’s executive director.
Meanwhile, North Carolina school district Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools also decided to close for the day after the administration discovered that a substantial number of the district’s staff members had planned to strike in solidarity with the movement.
“While the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools values and supports its female employees, the decision to close schools is not a political statement,” a statement released by the district reads. “It is entirely about the safety of students and the district’s inability to operate with a high number of staff absences.”
Marches related to the International Women’s Strike also took place around the world in countries such as India, Japan, Australia, Indonesia and Lebanon, as well as many parts of Europe.