'A Day Without a Woman': Strikes, rallies, political action

King 5's Elisa Hahn reports

"A Day Without a Woman" unfolded across the US on Wednesday with strikes and rallies as organizers called on women to skip work and not spend money to demonstrate their economic strength and political clout.

Women in more than 50 countries hosted similar events to coincide with the U.N.-designated International Women's Day, according to the event's Facebook page.

Rallies were planned across the country, including: New York; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Portland, Ore. Some colleges, such as Rutgers University in New Jersey, also planned walkouts and marches.

Many also served as a venue for anti-Trump slogans and speeches. In Washington, more than 20 Democratic women lawmakers walked out of the Capitol to speak to several hundred spectators who have gathered as part of a Day Without a Woman protests in the U.S.

The lawmakers are criticizing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. They are also demanding equal justice under the law and that women receive pay that’s on par with what men receive for performing similar work.

Among the remarks from women lawmakers, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told the crowd: “We are resisting President Trump and congressional Republicans and letting them know we will not go back.”
Happenings in New York drew national attention.

Thirteen women were arrested outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower and charged with disorderly conduct, the New York City Police Department said. No further information was available.

Earlier in the day, an investment firm in the city that was urging companies to increase the number of women on corporate boards attracted widespread attention on social media for installing a statue Tuesday of a resolute young girl facing Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull.

Tourists and workers swarmed the bronze sculpture by artist Kristen Visbal, entitled "Fearless Girl," with some demonstrators at one point Wednesday putting a knitted pink hat on her — the symbol of the Women's Marches that drew millions into the streets worldwide on Jan. 21.

“Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference,” reads a plaque at her feet.

In Washington, a buoyant crowd in the hundreds from the Resist Trump/Kill the Gag rally marched up 15th Street to Lafayette Square directly in front of the White House. Chants of "shame on him," "our lives, our bodies" cut through the air. Many are upset over President Trump's global gag order that bans U.S. funds to foreign groups for abortion services.

Ruth Von Fleckenstein, 76, and husband Fritz, 77, sat on a park bench listening to cheers from the crowd as impassioned speakers talked about women' rights.

"We have been longtime supporters of Planned Parenthood and the gag order is messing up programs in lots of countries," Ruth said. "I am concerned about the effects on the reproductive health of mothers, the welfare of families and women forced to bear children they can't support."

Organizers said they want to “stand with women around the globe” who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with similar protests in cities around the world on the day after Trump's inauguration.
Organizers encouraged supporters to wear red, a symbol of "revolutionary love and sacrifice," even if they couldn't participate directly.

"When millions of us stood together in January, we saw clearly that our army of love greatly outnumbers that of fear, greed and hatred," organizers said on their website. "Let's raise our voices together again, to say that women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability."

According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47% of the workforce and are dominant among registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists, the Associated Press notes. They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, and the same with lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55% of all college students.

At the same time, American women earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The median income for women was $40,742 in 2015, compared with $51,212 for men, according to Census data.

Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers found inspiration in the “Day Without an Immigrant” protests held last month. “We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it,” she said.

Findlay also said it is important for white women to stand in solidarity with minority women.

“Throughout history, the strikes that have the biggest impact are the ones when people who are already the target of oppression participate,” she said. “It’s when women of all backgrounds strike and stand together that we’re really going to see the impact.”

In Maryland, Prince George's County schools closed after some 1,700 teachers and 30% of its transportation staff requested leave for the day. "We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff," the school district said in a statement explaining its decision.

Public schools also closed in Alexandria, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., along with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina.

In Washington, Barbara and John Balducci, visiting the nation's capital from Atlanta, arrived early, also sporting red at Freedom Plaza — the gathering point for a women's rally.

Barbara, who marched in a January women's march in Providence, R.I., said the couple felt compelled to participate. From abortion to health care to women's rights — "all of it" is a concern with the Trump administration, she said.

"We wouldn't be so angry if Trump was doing something more positive," she said. "We see the country more divided than ever."

Sally Kline was protesting many things, but the global gag rule that Trump signed on day three of his presidency — was a high priority.

"With a stroke of a pen, he led to the death of thousands of women," she said, noting the rule's impact on health care. "Just having a baby in other parts of the world is a life-threatening phenomenon."

In Knoxville, Tenn., the Women's March Coalition of East Tennessee planned a downtown rally at the women’s suffrage statue on Market Square.

Participants were encouraged to wear red and share names and stories of inspirational women on the coalition's “Wall of SHEroes," according to a post on the coalition's website.

In Los Angeles, about 2,000 people turned out at the start of a rally, according to Gina Belafonte, the co-organizer.  Sporting signs saying "I am woman, hear me roar," and "resist," many women were seen in pink pussy hats, listened to speakers and danced to music outside City Hall.

Lindsay Feldman took the day off her job as an attorney to "be here for the women who can't t take the day off from their families, and it's important our absence was felt in the workplace."

Mikiko Convis, who works for the Los Angeles movie trailer firm The Big Picture, was there with her co-workers, who all got the day off from her boss. "He said to take a paid day off- he doesn't agree with what's going on, and wanted their solidarity and support for us. "

In Utah, as many as 1,000 women were expected to gather at the Capitol to remind lawmakers they are watching their actions on women’s issues.

In Providence, R.I., the municipal court planned to close because the demonstration in the city would leave the court without enough staff. Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a woman-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Mich., offered female-centric tattoos with messages like, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” for $50 to $100, with proceeds going to the Ann Arbor chapter of Planned Parenthood.

In Puerto Rico, more than 100 women clad in purple T-shirts blocked one of the island’s main highways as they linked arms and marched through the capital of San Juan at dawn.

The group clutched large purple flags emblazoned with the female symbol and used bull horns to decry chauvinism and demand more reproductive rights, among other things as nearby drivers honked in support.

While not mentioning the demonstrations, Trump took to Twitter and asked followers to join him in “honoring the critical role of women” in the U.S. and around the world. He tweeted that he has “tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”

Ivanka Trump echoed her father’s sentiments, tweeting: “Today, we celebrate women and are reminded of our collective voice and the powerful impact we have on our societies and economies.”

Regarding the rallies, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, "We want to recognize the contributions that women make to our businesses, to our families, to our economy, to our society," he said. "It's a free country. People have a right to express themselves, but I think that we should on a daily basis ... appreciate the contributions that women make in all those categories."

At the White House, first lady Melania Trump hosted a luncheon on International Women’s Day. White House officials said none of its female staffers skipped work. At the Capitol, more than 20 Democratic female lawmakers walked out in the early afternoon to speak to several hundred spectators who gathered as part of the nationwide protests.

The U.N. secretary general said the effective way to protect the rights of women is by prioritizing female empowerment. Antonio Guterres, speaking in Nairobi where he is on an official visit, said priority should be given for the “full presence of women” in government institutions, political systems and business, among other aspects of society.

Guterres said with the full presence of women in society, development will be stronger, peace will be easier to maintain, human rights will also be better protected.

Among events worldwide:

• In Moscow, four activists who sneaked into the Kremlin grounds to demonstrate were arrested along with two reporters and a photographer for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The demonstrators carried slogans, including "Men out of the Kremlin" and "All Power — women," according to the newspaper.

Officially, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved a five-year national action plan supporting women’s interests. Valentina Matvienko, who as speaker of the upper house of parliament is one of Russia’s most prominent female politicians, calls the strategy a “gift to all the women of Russia.”
• In Madrid, about 200 people gathered in central Puerta del Sol to mark International Women’s Day and support a group of women who, a day earlier, ended a hunger strike to demand politicians’ action against domestic violence.

Rights organizations called for women to dress in black outfits and stop working, studying, consuming or taking care of others in order to show what would happen if women disappeared, a worldwide initiative launched under the slogan “Not One Woman Less.”

• In Manila, Philippines, hundreds of activists from left-wing women’s groups protested at the U.S. Embassy, where they burned a mock U.S. flag with President Trump’s image, before joining a bigger rally outside the presidential palace.

In both rallies, demonstrators demanded an end to the presence of visiting U.S. troops and a crackdown against illegal drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte that has left thousands of drug suspects dead. The protesters hit a huge paper mask made in the likeness of Duterte as they ranted against an array of issues, including a lack of jobs, poverty and violence against women.

• In Sweden, the women’s football team marked the day by replacing the names on the back of their jersey’s with tweets from Swedish women “who have struggled to gain ground in their respective field.”

• In Germany, six all-female crews from Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and Brussels airlines planned to make their morning flights from the Lufthansa Group hubs to Berlin, Lufthansa said in a statement. The aircraft departing from Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Vienna, Zurich and Brussels were each scheduled to be flown by two female pilots.

• In Kabul, Reporters Without Borders marked the day by opening Afghanistan’s first center for the protection of women journalists.

Contributing: Susan Miller, in Washington; Jefferson Graham, in Los Angeles; Associated Press
 

Copyright 2017 KING


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