A few school districts shut their doors today because of the general strike known as a “Day Without Women,” the Washington Post reports, including schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, given that many teachers took leave so they could participate in the protests.
In addition to Prince George’s County, schools in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, also closed. “This is not a decision that was made lightly,” said Alvin L Crawley, superintendent of schools, who added that “it is not based on a political stance or position.”
“While we acknowledge the impact this decision has on families, the early decision prevents further disruption to students that may have occurred on Wednesday morning,” the president of the educators’ association in Alexandria City Public Schools was quoted as saying in a statement. “This decision was made in the interests of the safety of the students in ACPS. With 300 staff predicted to be absent on Wednesday, ACPS would not have been able to find sufficient classroom substitutes to deliver instruction to students.”
Schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina were facing a “significant” number of teachers who said they would skip work International Women’s Day, according to district officials, who told about 12,300 students just to stay home. They made the day an optional teacher work day.
“It is my determination that we will not have enough staff to safely run our school district,” said the district’s interim superintendent, Jim Causby, on the district’s website.
Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics show that about 76 percent of teachers in the US are women.
The United Nations first celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1975; countries across the world mark the date by honoring women’s achievements and campaigning for better women’s rights, including in the US, equal pay for equal work.
But following the election of President Donald Trump, the day this year carried an anti-Trump theme as well, at least in the US, given that his campaign was almost completely thrown off the rails by accusations and talk of female sexual abuse.
Following the nationwide protest known as a “Day Without Immigrants” a few weeks back, women were encouraged in various broadcast messages not to go to work, buy things, or have sex, just to demonstrate what the world would be like without women.
Not showing up for work is, in my opinion, misdirected, as it seems to promote not equal pay for equal work but just the opposite. Furthermore, some women could be fired if they don’t show up for work, especially single mothers working at low-wage jobs in, say, the fast food industry. The movement therefore must be judged inaccessible to many women in America, which weakens the protest if anything. And women in certain professions, such as medicine or law enforcement, jeopardize public health and safety, even of their own families, by not showing up for work.
I know women are equal to men, as propagating the species requires an equal contribution of genetic material from the male as from the female. But maybe I’m in the minority on that one, and maybe the laws in certain places like the US don’t recognize that idea. Women marched in protest in several cities around the world as well, declaring some unity with the US movement.
Thousands of protesters in Dublin, Ireland, for instance, brought traffic to a standstill in order to call for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, a ban on abortion. “There was an amazing atmosphere and a feeling that this generation are tired of having the Catholic church say what they can and can’t do with their bodies,” the Guardian quoted Christopher Thomas Flood, a university lecturer, as saying.
But practically speaking, in the US, a general strike isn’t advisable and is likely to bring more resentment than votes of support. The next few days and months will tell.