Reflecting on A Day Without A Woman

If/When/How Staff

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s also the “A Day Without A Woman” strike, which calls for women to:

  1. Take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses)
  3. Wear RED in solidarity

We at If/When/How, an organization comprised of all women, are reflecting on the personal, political, and social meaning of such an action. We decided not to take the day off and hope to express our solidarity through our daily work that seeks to advance reproductive justice.

We honor the power in this action of solidarity and acknowledge there is still more to be said and done.

We believe that abstaining from economic participation sends a truly powerful message and yet requires that we ask critical questions: What counts as “labor” in our society, whether paid or unpaid? What value have we put on our sisters who are out of work, be it due to disability or circumstance? How have we inherently devalued those of our sisters without buying power, and what of their worth?

This day of action must be about more than any woman’s stake in any portion of the capitalist machine. It must be about valuing and honoring the indisputably powerful contribution of every woman’s life, simply lived. In a year when we have seen at least seven trans women of color murdered in the first two months, we must learn, now or never, to treasure the fundamental and elementary contribution of living. We must acknowledge that in living, each sister weaves an irreplaceable thread into the fabric of our consciousness. In showing up, in whatever capacity they are able, they set into motion futures filled with discoveries and innovation.

We asked ourselves about the inherent problem in labeling the day of action as one for “women.” What does it mean to be a woman in our country? Who gets to decide that? Because in singling out one gender-identifier, we tacitly silence or dismiss others, despite shout-outs to gender justice.

When we understand that every person and the life that person lives — working or not, “productive” or not — is a mass of potential and possibility (and is, in fact, already worthy), then we understand the profound devastation and unacceptability of seven dead trans sisters in two months. And we pause to question whether a strike effectively communicates that.

On this “A Day Without A Woman,” our goal is not to prove the value of our productivity, but instead to spend a day of collective power shouting that we are worth so much more. And therefore, If/When/How stands in solidarity with those who strike today while acknowledging the complexities of this action and continuing our work to lawyer in service of reproductive justice.