A Day Without Women Reconsidered


A Day Without Women Reconsidered


Do you ever remember celebrating, honoring or acknowledging International Women’s Day before 2017? It’s one of those days that comes and goes, year after year, without much consequence.

In our current political climate there’s never been a more important or compelling time to honor women and their value in our society.

Organizers ask us to observe this year’s International Women’s Day as A Day Without Women, calling for women to:

  • participate in a general strike

  • make no purchases

  • make calls to legislators

  • donate to causes that matter

The point of A Day without Women is to magnify the importance women play in our society. That’s great! How does the above list do that? Through their absence, their value will be felt and appreciated. I get that, but I think we can go further.

As a business owner and a mother, I can’t fathom a day without women. For absence of women to significantly impact our world, we would have to truly check out. No taking the kids to school. No making lunch. No making breakfast. No driving the kids to extra curricular activities or doctor’s appointments. Skipping out on work and refraining from shopping or spending money might only be options for the most privileged of our numbers.

Let’s be sure to recognize that striking and abstaining from spending money is not available to everyone. Women go to work saving lives as doctors, attorneys, social workers and caregivers. These women and the people they serve do not have the luxury to strike. A nursing mom, a service member and house cleaner do not have a choice on whether they can skip out on work for a day to prove a point, no matter how important.

If we want to show the value of women, we will honor the work they do, inside the home, inside the workplace and in our communities. For so many striking keeps women from having the economic power they both deserve and must have to make their voices heard. It can be challenging to “donate to causes that matter,” when you’re not getting paid.

As a small employer, with a majority of women employees, what happens if I choose to close? It is simply irresponsible for us to ask women to shut ‘er down, without informed guidance. While some women are going to be patting themselves on the back that they didn’t participate in that stereotypical lady’s activity of shopping, what is the message that we’re really sending? We’re not asking women not to eat, not to care for their kids.

We can do more than striking and not shopping for a day. Let’s make bigger choices. Let’s move our shopping permanently from corporations, banks and businesses with poor ethics, particularly those with misogynistic records. Let’s shine the light on those businesses who lift women up and are committed to social justice. One day is not enough, we must shift our economy to support those doing great work every day!

My business will remain open. We will make a point to patronize women and minority owned businesses this International Women’s Day, not further weaken their economic strength by boycotting shopping.

Do you really think that if you run out of diapers and milk, women are going to wait until the following day to run to the store?

Let’s instead spend the day amplifying out loud and proud demanding equity and opportunity for all women. Let’s use our businesses for awareness, projecting what we do for our families, our communities and our economy. Let’s use this day to donate a percentage of our proceeds, paychecks or time to promote organizations and individuals who help or support girls and women. Let’s take the time to mentor a young woman or assist an elderly lady or new immigrant.

Women need to unite under a platform that makes sense for all women. Women of privilege and women without means. Women of color, immigrant women and white women. Professional women and women on welfare. Young ladies and the elderly. We can and will bring our message to the world when a day without women is inclusive of all women every day.

Sarah Shaoul