A Day Without Women: Climate Change Edition
By Jamie Garuti, Communications Manager
Today is not just any International Women’s Day. In a political climate that has made women across the nation feel that their rights and safety are under attack, the organizers behind the historic Women’s March have declared today “A Day Without A Woman”. Today, women across the country will go on strike, refraining from both paid and unpaid labor.
With women representing nearly half the workforce, the absence is sure to be felt deeply, and spur conversation on the inequalities that women currently endure. Because taking off work for a day is not an option for millions of women, organizers are offering alternative ways to participate. Women who cannot miss work can wear red, signifying “revolutionary love and sacrifice”, according to the organizers, or refrain from shopping at big box stores.
Others are participating as well. Men are encouraged to take on work that often disproportionately falls on women, such as childcare and housework. Businesses can participate by closing for the day or giving women workers the day off. All can prompt conversations with friends, family, and coworkers on the particular challenges that women face today.
I, along with fellow women colleagues, am participating in A Day Without A Woman. I am striking to stand up for my own rights, and the rights of women who face much deeper challenges than I – racism, poverty, transphobia, discrimination based on religion. While I am very fortunate to feel that I am consistently respected in the workplace, that my male colleagues value my opinion and hear my voice, I know that this is not the reality for too many women.
In the field of climate change solutions, inequality is readily apparent. Women represent just 13% of senior management teams in the power and utilities sector, and only 22% of US solar workers. The rapid growth of the renewables industry is a wonderful thing for our climate and economy, but a society that discourages women from entering engineering, science, and other related fields, while actively prioritizing men, will cause women to largely miss out on these job opportunities.
Even closer to home for me, as a nonprofit professional, NGOs across the country are disproportionately led by men. Of the top ten biggest environmental organizations (think Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund), eight are led by white men. And as I advocate for the implementation of strong climate policy, the legislators I am talking to are largely men. Last year, just 25% of Massachusetts legislators were women. Further, the challenges of entering and succeeding in these fields are significantly increased for women of color.
These issues are part of the complicated and dangerous reality that billions of women face every day – from being paid less, to facing domestic violence, to having their reproductive freedom taken from them, to living under governments that perpetuate this discrimination. It is up to all of us to actively fight sexism in all of the blatant and subtle forms that it takes. So today, I proudly stand with women, and pledge to continue to fight for our rights.