A Day Without a Woman: Everything you need to know about the International Women's Day strikes

Lydia Smith
Women's march

The day after Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, more than three million women around the world took part in 600 marches in protest of gender-based discrimination, in the largest demonstration of its kind.

On International Women's Day on 8 March, women will protest once again for A Day Without a Woman – a mass strike in protest of employment discrimination, the gender pay gap, violence against women and reproductive rights.

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Organisers of the Women's March on Washington have called for women in the United States to stage a mass walkout of their jobs and caring duties, alongside an International Women's Strike – which will take place in more than 30 countries.

Why is the strike taking place?

The Women's March on Washington organisers have said A Day Without A Woman aims to highlight that women in the workplace receive lower wages, experience discrimination and harassment and job insecurity.

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According to the US organisers, the International Women's Strike US, the day will be an "international day of action" organised by and for "women who have been marginalised and silenced by decades of neo-liberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women."

"March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad."

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What will happen?

The organisers of the Women's March on Washington have asked women to take a stand by doing the following:

  • Take the day off from paid and unpaid labour
  • Avoid spending money for the day, with the exception of shopping at small, women-owned and minority-owned shops
  • Wear red in solidarity of A Day Without A Woman

In London, a protest will take place outside the family court in Holborn at 9.45am around the same time the Spring Budget is announced, before a demonstration outside Parliament.

This is not the first time – in recent years – that women have gone on strike to protest inequality. Last year, businesses were forced to shut down in Poland after women staged a mass walkout over a proposed abortion ban. In October, Argentinian women took to the streets in protest of gender-based violence, after the rape and torture of a 16-year-old girl.

Abortion ban protest

What happens if you can't strike?

The organisers have said they recognise not every woman will be able to take industrial action and are asking people to show their support for those who can by wearing red – a colour associated with historic labour movements.

Critics have pointed out that, due to the nature of discrimination, only the most privileged women will be able to take part in the strike.

"We recognise that some of the 82% of women who become moms, particularly single mothers, may not have the option of refusing to engage in paid work or unpaid child care on March 8th," the Women's March website states.

"Many mothers have always worked and in our modern labour force, almost half of all households are women-lead, yet motherhood remains the number one predictor of poverty and a woman's earning potential is diminished further with each child."

"Many women in our most vulnerable communities will not have the ability to join the strike, due to economic insecurity. We strike for them."

What is International Women's Day?

International Women's Day is marked on 8 March with events around the world to celebrate the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of women, while highlighting the inequalities they face.

The theme for this year's IWD is "Be Bold for Change" – a call to women to take action against gender inequality.

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