Ladies, It's Time: A Day Without a Woman Disrupts Business as Usual

March 8, 2017 • 5 min read
Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson


San Francisco Massage Supply is closed today, March 8, 2017.

“I may miss some sales,” says Townsquared member Leslie Hollingsworth, “but I have put it out to all my customers, and have gotten great positive responses. I feel that it’s important at the moment that women stand up and make our voices heard.”

Hollingsworth and many other businesses, government offices, and schools, have closed down for the International Women’s Day strike, A Day Without a Woman. Not all of them by choice.

Just as A Day Without Immigrants was organized to spotlight the essential and often unappreciated work that immigrants to do, today’s strike is designed to call attention to how much essential and often thankless labor women work at, and the gender disparity in pay.

On average U.S. women are paid 80 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. It varies by geography—women in Washington state earn an average of 79 percent, while women in California earn 86 percent—and, unsurprisingly, the disparity is greater for women of color. According to the American Association of University Women, Hispanic and Latina women, for example, are paid a mere 54 percent of what white men are paid. The pay gap also increases as workers age.

Organizers—a coalition of individuals from the Women’s March earlier this year and various women’s rights groups—have stressed that striking isn’t the only way to show support for the work that women do and equal compensation. Supporters are encouraged to wear red, and to avoid shopping, except at women- and minority-owned small/micro businesses.

For many women the day is a moment to recharge, a “day of visibility and solidarity,” says Eden Trenor, owner of Over the Moon, Under the Sun, which offers integrative support services, and a co-creator of Shakti Rising, a women’s organization for social change. “It brings to light a lot of the work that is not normally public and letting it be seen, and helping women recognize other women’s work.” Trenor was interviewed March 7 on KPOO about the value of International Women’s Day.

“Outside of the Bay Area,” Trenor notes, “it is still quite a radical act to be affiliated with the women’s movement, and seeing others makes the risk easier to bear.”

Small business owners Hollingsworth and Shannon Kidwell were interviewed this morning for KTVU’s segment on International Women’s Day, and Hollingsworth is featured in a Mashable roundup of what women around the world are doing to mark the Day.

The owners of Mom’s the Word, Townsquared members with a maternity store with locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles, are choosing to stay open today, “to raise money to support a worthy cause that empowers women to use their voice and make change.” The business is donating 100 percent of the day’s proceeds to Emerge America, a group that helps train women to run for public office.

In the US, women make up a paltry 19.1 percent of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 21 of the 100 seats in Senate. In other words, men make up 80.9 percent of the House and 79 percent of the Senate—80.6 percent of the legislature. Globally, the US ranks 100th in female legislative or parliamentary representation. Rwanda is first.

Townsquared member Blue Ova Health, a woman-owned integrative health care center, is staying open, wearing red, and donating 50 percent of the day’s proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Blue Ova focuses on fertility, pregnancy, post-natal and women’s health and well-being. Co-founder Kidwell explains, “We believe everyone deserves access to all family planning options.”

Alison Neri in one of her hats.

Like others around the country who are not striking, member Alison Neri, who works at a clothing shop in Hayes Valley, is wearing red “in solidarity.” And, on the side, she says, she’s been “knitting kitty hats and sending them to anyone who wants them.”

Townsquared recently launched a women’s group for members. Called “The Future is Female: Women in Business,” it is comprised of the Bay Area chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), other local women’s business groups, and women owners of small businesses. The group was created to help women at all stages of business development, as well as be a place to share business campaigns and events.

March 8 Bay Area Events & Other Ways to Get Involved

Townquared is co-hosting a Berkeley Women Entrepreneurs Gathering with Heart Source, 1600 Shattuck Avenue, #125, Berkeley, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

The Women’s Centers International, Raising Our Women, and Sola Vista are hosting a “Women in Hip Hop” celebration from 6 to 9 PM at SoleSpace, 1714 Telegraph, in Oakland.

Eden Trenor is hosting a women’s circle this evening in Petaluma. Shakti Rising also has a handy list of 9 Meaningful Acts for International Women’s Day.

Women’s Strike Rally, Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 5 to 9 PM, Oakland.

Happy Hour with the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, 6 to 8 PM, at Tonic, 2360 Polk Street.

Thinking Women’s Comedy, a show featuring the Bay Area’s best comedians and presentations from women at Google, Women’s Audio Mission, and BioMarin. All proceeds go to Women’s Audio Mission, advancing the presence of women in the audio field. Starts at 7 PM, PianoFight, Main Stage, 144 Taylor St. Tickets are $10-$15.

Join women’s advocates to speak about women’s rights and the disparate challenges women still face, with Musimbi Kanyoro, the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, and Linda Calhoun, executive producer of Career Girls. From 6:30 to 8 PM at the World Affairs Auditorium, 312 Sutter St., Suite 200, San Francisco. Tickets available.

NOW San Francisco is hosting an “International Women’s Day – General Strike After Party!” at 7 PM at El Rio on Mission Street in San Francisco.

Postcard party on March 13: Join a campaign to send 1 million postcards to President Trump on issues including women’s rights, religious freedom, immigration and economic security. The event is from 7 to 9 PM at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., San Francisco. RSVP to the Postcard Party.

Are you a woman-owned local business? Find out more about getting certified to boost business.

And always support the amazing local women- and minority-owned businesses in your area!

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