PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Many American women stayed home from work, joined rallies or wore red Wednesday to demonstrate how vital they are to the U.S. economy, as International Women’s Day was observed with a multitude of events around the world.
The Day Without a Woman protest in the U.S. was put together by organizers of the vast women’s marches that drew more than 1 million Americans the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The turnout on the streets this time was much smaller in many places, with crowds often numbering in the hundreds. There were no immediate estimates of how many women heeded the call to skip work.
“Trump is terrifying. His entire administration, they have no respect for women or our rights,” said 49-year-old Adina Ferber, who took a vacation day from her job at an art gallery to attend a demonstration in New York City. “They need to deal with us as an economic force.”
The U.S. event – inspired in part by the Day Without an Immigrant protest held last month – was part of the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day.
In a message, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said leadership positions are predominantly held by men, and “outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism” are widening the economic gender gap. Closing that gap would add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025, he said.
Gueterres also lamented that “around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.”
In Warsaw, thousands of women showed Poland’s conservative government red cards and made noise with kitchenware to demand full birth control rights, respect and higher pay.
In Rome, hundreds of women marched from the Colosseum to demand equal rights. Thousands marched in Istanbul, despite restrictions on demonstrations imposed since last year’s failed coup. Turkish police did not interfere.
Women also held rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.
Germany’s Lufthansa airline arranged for six all-female crews to fly into Berlin. Sweden’s women’s soccer team replaced the names on the backs of the players’ jerseys with tweets from Swedish women. Finland announced a new $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize.
A crowd of about 1,000 people, the vast majority of them women, gathered on New York’s Fifth Avenue in the shadow of Trump Tower. Women wore red and waved signs reading “Nevertheless she persisted,” ”Misogyny out of the White House now” and “Resist like a girl.” Thirteen people were arrested for blocking traffic, police said.
School in such places as Prince George’s County, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, canceled classes after hundreds of teachers and other employees let it be known they would be out. In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court closed for lack of staff members.
In Washington, more than 20 Democratic female representatives walked out of the Capitol to address a cheering crowd of several hundred people.
Dressed in red, the lawmakers criticized efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi encouraged more women to go into politics, saying, “You have marched for progress. Now you must run for office.”
A few hundred people gathered on the lawn outside Los Angeles City Hall to rally for women’s rights. Julie D’Angelo took the day off from her job in music licensing, saying she wanted to stand for those women who can’t afford time away from work or are too intimidated to ask for the day off.
Hundreds of women dressed in red and holding signs with photos of their local lawmakers gathered at the Utah Capitol to remind legislators they are closely watching how they handle women’s issues.
In Denver, several hundred people marched silently around the state Capitol. Kelly Warren brought her daughters, ages 3 and 12.
“We wanted to represent every marginalized woman whose voice doesn’t count as much as a man’s,” said Warren, a sales associate in the male-dominated construction industry.
Some businesses and institutions said they would either close or give female employees the day off.
The owners of the Grindcore House in Philadelphia closed their vegan coffee shop, where eight of the 10 employees are women.
“The place definitely wouldn’t run without us,” said Whitney Sullivan, a 27-year-old barista who planned to attend a rally.
In New York, a statue of a fearless-looking girl was placed in front of Wall Street’s famous charging bull sculpture. The girl appeared to be staring down the animal. A plaque at her feet read: “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”
As part of the Day Without a Woman protest, women were also urged to refrain from shopping.
Some criticized the strike, warning that many women cannot afford to miss work or find child care. Organizers asked those unable to skip work to wear red in solidarity.
Monique LaFonta Leone, a 33-year-old health care consultant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had to work but put on a red shirt and donated to charity, including Planned Parenthood.
“I have bills to pay, but I wanted to make my voice heard, no matter how quiet,” she said. “I also wanted to make a statement to say that women are doing it for themselves. We’re out here in the workforce and making a difference every day.”
Trump took to Twitter to salute “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.”
First lady Melania Trump marked the day by hosting a luncheon at the White House for about 50 women.
The White House said none of its female staff members skipped work in support of International Women’s Day.
Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a female-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, offered tattoos with messages like “Nevertheless, She Persisted” – a reference to the recent silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor – with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
Women make up more than 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and are dominant among registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists, according to the census.
They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, and the same with lawyers and judges. Women also account for 55 percent of all college students.
At the same time, American women earn 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.
A Day Without A Woman: https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/
Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle; Mike Householder in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Michelle Smith in Providence, Rhode Island; William Mathis and Edith Lederer in New York City; Nick Riccardi in Denver; and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.
Errin Haines Whack covers urban affairs for The Associated Press. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous.
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