International Women’s Day is getting more attention than usual in the U.S. this year. You can see it in the marches, rallies and strikes today, in the numbers of women at work wearing red, and in the diverse actions being taken nationwide for dignity, equality and respect.
Historically, this day was called International Working Women’s Day. Whether we balance two jobs just to (try to) pay the bills, take care of a sick parent, work a 9 to 5 job, or hold it down some other way, there are a million and one ways to be a working woman. Just as there are a million and one ways to fight what’s happening to all of us and move forward together toward justice.
Sometimes, people speak as if they think women are a monolith, and oftentimes a white, heterosexual, middle class monolith at that. We’re not. All of us hold multiple identities at once. We’re different races, sexual identities, religions, and so much more. On top of that, we all “do gender” differently.
Solidarity for all women is perhaps more important than ever before. We are all in this together, and we’ve got to show up for each other. When the next Black transgender woman is killed, be there. When there’s an ICE raid happening in your community and tearing apart families, be there. When access to reproductive care is threatened, be there. An attack on one of us or a group of us is an attack on all of us. We will only achieve equity, justice and human rights for women together and united.
9to5, National Association of Working Women continues to organize for the real changes we need to achieve justice and equality for working women - and for our broader communities. 9to5 is a place of progress and hope, where we build a better world together. Across the country, 9to5 members are boldly taking action to resist the sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-worker proposals, nominations, and rhetoric of the new administration and those emboldened by it. We refuse to normalize these hateful and dangerous policies and positions. Instead, we choose to fight hate with love, “alternative facts” with truth and common-sense, and feelings of defeat with hopeful action.
After the January 21st Women's March, Carla Jones, a 9to5 member in Atlanta, explained "I felt proud and empowered by the large turnout. I knew then that this was the beginning of a movement and that 9to5 has a significant role to play." Whether it's working to Ban the Box in Georgia and Wisconsin, protecting affordable mobile home communities in Colorado, combating wage theft in California or fighting for paid family and medical leave and equal pay in the states and nationally, there is a way for everyone to get involved.
Today, 9to5 member Marilyn Lee will speak in front of thousands at Women Workers Rising in Washington, DC, a march which will bring together visual artists, prominent writers, community storytellers, poets, and passionate women activists of all stripes from across the country who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Marilyn will share her story of how she and her family were deeply impacted by incarceration and the need for family-centered solutions. “I’ve seen the difficulties of being behind bars when my children were small and also from the other side when I took care of my sister’s kids when she was incarcerated. For us, there was no support. Times were hard and we made it through, but not every family is that lucky.” Other speakers will address an “end to workplace violence and harassment and promote pay equity, one fair living wage, paid leave, and labor rights at work.”
Yes, we live in tumultuous and unsettling times but I find hope in each woman who’s had enough. Women who had never attended a march before are helping organize them in their communities. Women who didn’t know who their elected officials were a year ago (find yours here) are now making calls and sending messages to their offices. Women who didn’t think voting mattered, are registering their neighbors.
Each time those who stand against us go low, we’ll go high and higher. Arm in arm, we are buoyant. Use this opportunity to show what we’re really made of - love, sincerity, commitment and grit. We’ll have many opportunities in the days ahead, to not only come together to fight for what is right, but also to celebrate our policy wins and personal joys, ourselves and each other.
“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds” is one of my favorite quotes. It speaks directly to the times we live in and to the hope kept alive in each of us even as we suffer attack after attack. Whether you’re in the streets, organizing for proactive policies, wearing red on the job, or taking a respite today, this message is for you. The fight for justice is a long one and no one said it would be easy. In the end, however, we will win- shoulder to shoulder, our roots reaching deep, and our arms lifted like branches in liberation and celebration.