Today is International Women's Day. The day of women.
A bunch of women called for all women to strike today. Recognizing that not all women can just call out today (for economic or other reasons), they could just wear red. Everyone will know wearing red means they support the effort. Well, if they don't own anything red, they can just wear hot pink.
Hearing about this strike reminded me of something we heard while in Iceland. Back in 1975 the women held a strike. They did not go to work, do household chores, do any childcare. Basically they showed the men of Iceland what they do and how it impacts the country. NINETY percent of the women participated. Some shops, factories, and schools closed forcing men to take their children to work with them. More than 25,000 women turned out in Reykjavik to protest (more than 10% of the country's 220,000 people).
The end result was a massive turning point in women's equality and women's rights. Only five years later they elected their first president who was not a man -- the first in Europe. (Source BBC article) They have the reputation for being "the world's most feminist country." The next day things went back to normal, but the seeds were planted and changes were made.
What really impresses me about the strike in Iceland is it took place long before social media. They managed to get the word out and build momentum without constant email, FaceBook, and Twitter reminders. The movement struck a chord with many women and it happened.
When I first heard about the plans to have a similar day off in the United States I was excited. I didn't clear my calendar, or travel to DC, but kept my ears open. It was called "A Day Without Women." As you have probably figured out by now, it didn't turn out the same way as it did in Iceland. I may know of one person who went (a cousin who lives in DC), some people wore red (but I did not see a sea of red), others said negative things about the whole idea and purposely did not wear red. And this is in the age of in-your-face media.
I really think our country is too divided as a whole for the movement to catch on right now. We are divided politically, and divided within those divisions by how to prioritize what divides us, then subdivided again and again. Until we can at least unite behind one cause, a national movement such as today's is doomed to fail.
Meanwhile I do hope a rally is planned in Trenton on April 22 to support our scientists and scientific research. That is one I can get behind.