By Elena Stuart
Coinciding with the International Women’s Day, the “Day Without a Woman” strike made Americans aware of the yearly celebration of women every March 8 which has been globally observed since the beginning of the last century.
International Women’s Day originated in New York. Since then it has become a national holiday in 30 other countries including Russia and China. Meanwhile people in the United States were unaware of the international day honoring women’s achievements until the strike.
To include as many women as possible the strike’s organizers asked protesters to either take the day off, avoid shopping in large corporate run stores or wear red in solidarity.
On the day of, the strike participation was much lower than the turnout for the “Women’s March on Washington” in January.
At City College only a few students and teachers seemed to be wearing red on the day of the strike. When asked some students admitted to wearing red on accident while many did not know about the strike or International Women’s Day.
“I was completely oblivious,” said City College student Amanda Washington.
Faculty members like Behavioral Science Department Chair, Jennifer Dawgert-Carlin, planned to participate by wearing red but still taught on March 8. “The role of an educator is to bring students awareness of gender,” Carlin-Dawgert said, “Patriarchy hurts everyone. Not just women – everyone.”
City College student activist Stella Lawson wore red on March 8 and has celebrated International Women’s Day for 18 years. “I had to go to work myself, just for financial reasons.”
On the same day some San Francisco restaurant owners were surprised to find many Russian speaking couples in their establishments.
“Russians celebrate International women’s day like we do Valentine’s Day,” said local restaurant owner and general manager Yuka Ioroi.
Ioroi was delighted to see the Eastern European couples smiling and chatting in low tones in the candlelight of her little restaurant on Balboa Street.
“I prefer it being a celebration and appreciation of women than a strike,” said Ioroi who was somewhat annoyed by the idea of another protest. “All of (these) guys showed up and I was like oh yay this is supposed to be fun.”
Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova said on March 8: “The full empowerment of girls and women is one of humanity’s most powerful levers for development.”
Both femininity and feminism should empower women, but in their fight for gender equality many women have forgotten to celebrate simply being a woman. Femininity and feminism do not have to be mutually exclusive.
In Russia men give flowers to all the women they cherish. This is a costly affair and possibly the only way to justify higher wages for men. Yet a 2015 study by Grant Thornton, the global professional services firm, reveals that Eastern Europe leads gender equality in the workplace worldwide with Russia at the forefront.
Perhaps it is time to look to the rest of the world for their examples of feminism despite our feelings about certain foreign leaders and their policies.
America needs and deserves a national holiday to appreciate women of all walks of life as well as their achievements.