'Day Without a Woman': Women's March Sets Date for General Strike

DiversityInc asked Nikol Alexander-Floyd, a political scientist and women's studies professor, her thoughts on the strike and on race in relation to the movement.

Women's March on Washington, Jan. 21, 2017 / DIVERSITYINC/Sheryl Estrada

Building upon the momentum of the worldwide protests against the Trump administration on January 21, Women's March organizers announced "A Day Without a Woman" is scheduled for March 8, which is International Women's Day.


The organization tweeted Tuesday:

The organizers did not immediately announce the terms of the strike but said it would begin sharing more information and actions over the next few weeks.

A Women's March Instagram post infers that the strike may include a boycott of certain businesses:

"In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer 'A Day Without a Woman.'

"We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?

"We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred. On March 8, International Women's Day, let's unite again in our communities for 'A Day Without a Woman.'"

Following the marches, the organization released a plan of 10 actions in 100 days.

Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd is an associate professor of women's and gender studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Alexander-Floyd told DiversityInc that she viewed Women's March in January as the "un-Inauguration" of President Donald Trump.

Dr. Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd

"The Women's March was successful in making opposition to [President] Trump visible, and in affirming the need to resist the Trump administration long-term," she said. "Happening 24 hours after his swearing in, I like to think of it as the 'un-Inauguration.'

"The heightened responsiveness of the public to oppose nominations and to protest executive orders is certainly necessary and encouraging, so this is something that organizers of the Women's March should facilitate."

However, Alexander-Floyd, who is also an attorney and a political scientist, said, "unless we can channel the energy we have seen into organizing people in a systematic way, raising funds, and pushing a targeted policy agenda, it will not get us very far."

She said the preparation for the general strike on March 8 might not be robust enough to produce the desired outcomes.

"A true or optimal general strike that would grind economic and business functions to a halt takes more time, focus and coordination than has been possible for the March 8 action," she said. "It is a noble idea, and may result in protests, but will not have the impact that a wide-scale general strike could provide."

Diversity within the Women's March Movement

Women's March on Washington, Jan. 21, 2017 / DIVERSITYINC

The idea for the Women's March started on Facebook, shortly after the presidential election. The concept grew into hundreds of thousands of women (and men) who participated in marches in the U.S. and abroad.

Alexander-Floyd, co-founder of the Association for the Study of Black Women in Politics, explained that prior to the January 21 marches, "some women of color feminists raised questions about diversity both in terms of march organizers and in terms of platform issues."

She said the concerns of women of color feminists are valid, "but some context and nuance are important to consider."

The initial organizers, white women, named the march the Million Women March, which sparked controversy as it is the same name of the marches organized by Black activists in the 1990s to address issues concerning the Black community. Organizers began seeking diverse talent to help lead the cause.

"Although they are not always highlighted or recognized in public coverage, there are women of color that have been involved in organizing the Women's March, and they were certainly participants," said Alexander-Floyd. "The platform issues have also been altered in response to public critique."

Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are the national co-chairs. Mallory, who is African American, is a veteran organizer who worked closely with the Obama administration as an advocate for civil rights issues and equal rights for women. Perez, a Latina, is the executive director of The Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit founded by Harry Belafonte.

Speakers at the March on Washington included activist and feminist Angela Davis.

"We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages," Davis said.

This photo from the Washington, D.C. march went viral on social media. / TWITTER

Some Black women have demonstrated disinterest in supporting the Women's March movement in light of the presidential election voting results — 94 percent of Black women voted for Hillary Clinton, while 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.

"Support for a candidate, like Hillary Clinton, or for a protest, like the Women's March, is not driven by affect, but one's perceived political interests and goals," Alexander-Floyd said.

"Those who felt betrayed by white women on Election Day need to have a time of introspection. Maybe they slipped into assuming that most women, regardless of race, class, or religious affiliation, among other things, support or oppose particular policies or attitudes.

"Perhaps they hoped women overwhelmingly share some type of feminist values. The reality of the situation is that white women have consistently supported Republicans in presidential elections. This is something that political scientist Jane Junn and others have effectively demonstrated for some time, for instance."

According The Atlantic, "[White women] voted for Donald Trump for the same complicated set of reasons they consistently vote for other Republican presidential candidates; failing to win their support is a broad problem for Democrats, and not a specific failing of Hillary Clinton."

Alexander-Floyd said, "women of color feminists have consistently pointed to cleavages that exist within political camps and the dangers of trying to homogenize women's experiences."

She also said the Women's March must practice long-term organizing in order to forge a political agenda, work through conflicts and develop consensus around issues.

"There is no self-evident common ground that all women share and by which they are motivated," Alexander-Floyd added. "We are diverse experientially, ideologically and in terms of our backgrounds and priorities."

At the Women's March on Washington, attorney Jalila Bell, who is African American, told DiversityInc in a video interview that she participated not only to support women's rights but to express support for Black Lives Matter, LBGTQ rights and rights for her Muslim friends and family.

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