NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — American women stayed home from work, zipped up their wallets, wore red and attended rallies across the country Wednesday to show their economic strength and impact on society as part of International Women’s Day celebrations across the globe.
“A Day Without a Woman” is the first major action by organizers of the Women’s March since the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, when millions of women poured into the streets in protest of misogyny, inequality and oppression.
The event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day. German airline Lufthansa had six all-female crews flying from several cities in the country to Berlin. Sweden’s women’s football team replaced the names on the back of their jerseys with tweets from Swedish women “who have struggled to gain ground in their respective field.” Finland announced plans to create a $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize. Women also held rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.
Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers for “A Day Without a Woman” were inspired by the recent “Day Without an Immigrant” protests held last month. She said the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country’s socio-economic system and would demonstrate how the paid and unpaid work of women keeps households, communities and economies running.
“We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it,” Findlay said.
Findlay said it is important for white women to be 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.”
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday 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.”
Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday’s protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.
More than a million people, mostly women, turned out nationwide for the Women’s March.
In New York, about 1,000 people gathered on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of Trump Tower to demonstrate on International Women’s Day. Women dressed in red waved hand-made signs with messages that included: “Resist like a girl.”
An impressive rally followed in Washington Square Park Wednesday afternoon.
“Tell Trump, you must hear our call. We need equality for all,” one group of woman sang in unison next to the Grand Arch under a brilliant blue sky.
“I came out just to show that we are strong, and that we can fight for anything we want,” Camilla, 12, told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
Equal pay and the right to contraception and abortion were among the major issues addressed at the rally.
Many women also took off from work in New York, some of them losing a day’s pay to do their part for the movement.
One group of women from a marketing company skipped work to be part of the massive movement.
“I march for all women — my nanny especially. She’s a wonderful person. I’d love to give her the day off. She’s allowed me to be here today, and that special for both of us,” one woman said.
“We unanimously chose to come together to support women’s rights today” another woman said.
“We have a lot of strong, powerful women in our office, and our office is empty today. You know, I think that the men in our office have a lot of work to do.”
Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs helped organize the massive act of solidarity. Her husband, Adam Jacobs, took the day’s purpose literally – running his day without a woman.
“I woke up this morning and it was completely up to my husband to take care of my son and to get him ready, and he actually took him to work with him,” Adam Jacobs said.
“I thought about, well, if it’s a day without a woman — it’s really truly a day without women — then our son should come to work with me, because his daycare teachers are all women — and so we brought him here.” Jacobs said.
Jacobs runs a nonprofit called Kids Creative, which puts together after-school programs in some New York City schools.
Working on Wednesday was a juggling act, but his 2-year-old son was thankfully a cooperative participant.
“I was just grateful to do that,” he said. “He was sitting in on meetings today. He sat in on a conversation about gender equity — so it’s fun.”
Jacobs’ coworkers admired the role he took on Wednesday, for the women in his life and all women.
“Taking this initiative and making this effort of being so present in a day that is so important for all women is something that is completely admirable,” said Gyana Mella of Kid Creative, “and we celebrate him for that.”
While many women made a lot of sacrifices to attend the marches and rallies Wednesday, there were also some women who could not afford to miss a day of work or a day’s pay. But they still made a point of contributing.
Many of the women working at Kids Creative were among those who were not able to take off work.
“We are here doing the work. I wish I could’ve been there, and it’s so hard not being able to be a part of it, but I feel that I am making my little part by just being there and getting the work done, and being able to deliver something to the families and the kids that we serve,” Mella said.
For employees such as Naima Lewis, coming to work was her own way of honoring women this International Women’s Day, and every day.
“What we do actually helps lots of women, since we service children,” Lewis said, “o it is important for us to be at work so that these children get service.”
Police said preliminary indications were than 13 people were arrested at the New York rally.
International Women’s Day rallies were also held in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Washington and Berkeley, California.
School districts including Prince George’s County in Maryland, the Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina, have canceled classes in anticipation of employee participation.
At the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, many female staffers called out. The New York Post reports the lower grades are off while the upper grades still have school. They will take time to talk about women’s issues, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. While there is apparent support for the cause, the head of the school still apologized to parents for the undue burden created by the strike.
In Utah, as many as 1,000 women are expected to gather at the Capitol to remind lawmakers they are watching their actions on women’s issues.
In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court plans to close because the demonstration in the city would leave the court without enough staff to open. Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a woman-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, is offering female-centric tattoos with messages like, “Neverless, She Persisted” for $50 to $100, with proceeds going to the Ann Arbor chapter of Planned Parenthood.
Some businesses have said they will either close or give female employees the day off. The event website provides templates for “out of office” emails, and an employer letter. The site has had more than a half-million visitors, and more than 60,000 had clicked on the letter template by Tuesday afternoon.
Organizers noted that only a fourth of participants in the Women’s March signed up in advance to participate.
The role of women in American society is significant. According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce and are dominant in such professions as registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists. They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, as well as lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.
Still, American women continue to be paid less than men, earning 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.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)