International Women’s Day on Wednesday saw calls to action, protests and celebrations across the globe. Many reflected on how far women’s rights have come in the past few decades, while some looked ahead to the challenges to be overcome.
In the U.S. many people joined the #ADayWithoutAWoman, a national strike encouraging women to take the day off work and school and not shop unless it was at a woman- or minority-owned business.
People wore red in solidarity of the movement and rallies were held in major cities for those who chose to participate in the strike.
But does wearing a red shirt and refusing to eat out really make a difference? If enough people participated it would. However, with a flimsy following it will just be a ripple in an otherwise tumultuous sea.
This is the first major action by the organizers of the Women’s March since the international protests following Inauguration Day.
The goal was to highlight the financial impact women make in this country and to show what it would be like without them.
Despite the fact that women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce, they continue to be paid less than men, earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the U.S. Census. The median income for men was $51,212 in 2015, compared with $40,742 for women.
So women refused to open their wallets. The spokeswoman for the protest, Cassady Findlay, told Fox News the movement would hopefully highlight how the paid and unpaid work of American woman impacted the economy and local communities.
“We provide all this value and keep the system going and receive unequal benefits from it,” Findlay said.
Yes, hundreds of people attended rallies in cities like New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Hundreds refused to clock in for work. Some were even arrested for attempting to block traffic around Trump Tower in New York City.
Students across the country were given “excused absence” passes by the national organizers and some even skipped class. After all, women make up 55 percent of all college students.
A student at USF made a social media page reminding students of the national holiday and told The Oracle she hoped students would participate to show the impact women have on the university.
But did it make an impact? Did the administration take notice?
That remains unclear.
President Donald Trump did tweet about International Women’s Day, encouraging others to honor the “critical role of women here in America.” However, he did not mention the protest.
His administration has yet to make any stances on health care that would prevent the restriction of women’s rights and has not addressed the wage gap that still persists.
Hopefully, the trending hashtag and lack of contribution by women to today’s economy was enough to at least get those in the administration to talk about the many women’s issues they have chosen to ignore.
But simply tweeting at a cause isn’t enough to create meaningful change. We need to continue to monitor our politicians and when they do something, or consider doing something that restricts our rights, the entire nation must stand up in resistance.
Making phone calls, writing letters, voting in local elections, boycotting and unifying in marches is how you force those in power to listen. The protest on Wednesday was a nice start, but without further action it will have meant nothing.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.