At least three school districts decided to close their schools today in solidarity with the “Day Without a Woman” general strike going on around the country in honor of International Women’s Day. The protest is one of many organized by feminists following President Trump assuming office.
The Alexandria City (Va.), Prince George’s (Md.), and Chapel-Hill Carrboro (N.C.) school districts all came to the decision that it was better to just close their schools Wednesday rather than hold hundreds of employees who requested the day off accountable for their actions. Prince George’s County made the decision late Tuesday night. According to a statement from the county, 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of transportation staff requested leave. Officials apologized “for the inconvenience this will surely cause to many families.”
This decision left parents who are actually expected to attend their jobs stranded and scrambling to find childcare for their children who now could not go to school. Even more troubling is the effect the school closures may have had on children who rely on school lunch programs to be fed. Understandably enraged parents flooded the Facebook pages of the various counties, voicing their objection to the decision. “This is absolutely infuriating and uncalled for. Who gets punished here? The students. Especially those students who rely on the schools for food during the day. And never mind the fact that you’ve inconvenienced parents who now have to scramble for daycare at the last possible minute,” wrote one Prince George’s County mom.
The “Day Without a Woman” strike was planned by the same organizers of the Women’s March that took place in January. According to its organizers, the strike’s purpose is to promote “equality, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.” The absence of women in the workplace is intended to demonstrate the economic value of women and the injustices they experience, including unequal pay, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.
So how can a protest possibly be effective when it is, in effect, hurting those whose rights it is attempting to promote? The answer is simple – it can’t, and it is further ironic that women are protesting job insecurity and lower wages by … skipping work. This counterproductive approach shows a fundamental flaw in the movement, which appeals, on the one hand, to women in positions of privilege and, on the other, shuts out underprivileged women who are responsible for feeding their families. Given this glaring problem, the backlash now underway against the “Day Without a Woman” couldn’t be more well-deserved.