How do you take a photo of something invisible? What does it look like when 3.5 billion people are asked to just stop — to not show up, to not step up, to strike from — doing the things they’ve always had to do. In
some places, it looks like a lot of empty chairs, as women stayed home from their jobs. In more places than that though, it looks like business as usual, as most women around the world do not have the privilege, ability, or support to take a day off. “You think I could not work?” a female cashier at Starbucks told me this morning. “I need the money.”
But just one block north by Central Park,
A Day Without A Woman took on another form as hundreds of women and their allies convened to show their support or the importance of women’s labor. Wearing red and carrying signs, these women gathered to listen to activists like Linda Sarsour and radio DJ Angie Martinez speak out about healthcare, equal pay, intersectionality, and violence against women. Later that day, many of the activists were arrested for blocking traffic in Columbus Circle outside the Trump hotel.
As with the Women's March, the audience was largely white, and the participants we spoke to were mostly from creative fields or self-employed. But, most of the women we spoke to acknowledged those who weren’t able to show up. “I came to support the people who couldn’t be here,” Rachel Brosnahan, a 26-year-old actress you might recognize from
House Of Cards, told us. "Minorities, trans men and women, and gender non-conforming folk — the most vulnerable under [Trump's] administration."
We spoke to a handful of the women who attended the noon rally to see their personal reasons about why they chose to not go into work today, and what they wore to stand together as one massive bloc.
Yaz “I work a service job. I’m here to support women. Without women, what would there be? We’re what makes everybody else better — and by everybody else, I mean men.”
Elizabeth Beer “We’re harnessing this incredible power and energy of women by striking — I wanted to be part of that. I work for myself, so nobody else cares that I’m not working today, but I felt that it was really important to be here.”
Sarah Jones “I am striking from being a writer and performer. I’m here because we’re still not treated like human beings.”
Haidee Finlay-Levin “I’m striking from freelance work. Freelance is not free work! Without a doubt we have to be heard, we have to protest, we have to be present, we have to be committed.”
Latham Thomas “I’m in women’s health so it was hard to strike for me. I deliver babies. Women are the ones who give birth, and we’re the reason why everyone is standing out here today — we all passed through the hips of a woman. We’re all standing on the shoulders — we’re standing on the hips, rather — of the women who have come before us. I think that right now, more than ever, we have to come together. This political climate has forced us to do that. I’m grateful for that — even though it’s a struggle.”
Erika Monroe "I’m a mother, and also a stylist and costume designer. I'm here to show support for all types of women including trans and racially diverse women. My son’s school is one of the preschools that’s on strike today. All of his teachers are on strike — some of them might be here. The world would fall apart without women, frankly.”
Yasmeen “I’m skipping class to be here. As far as what women make, salary-wise, and the fact that women are considered to be less than men — that's not okay.”
Pilar Barreyro “As a black woman, as a first-generation American, I'm standing in solidarity with everyone else for the change that we all deserve and are demanding.”
Jeannine Phillips “I'm a chemist and have four daughters. I came up before Title VII, and I remember what that was like. We’re not going back.”
“I work for
, which is a women-owned business. I support them, but I also support my right to strike. There is solidarity between all of us. I’m bringing it back to my womenfolk at the end of the day.
“I’m here for the women who came before me, who fought relentlessly, and the women who are fighting today. I'm here for intersectional rights, for human rights, and for the future, because the future needs to be for women. The fight is never going to be over. It’s okay to feel helpless at times, but we have to keep going. ”
Asako “I’m a self-employed documentary filmmaker. Where this country is headed is terrifying. I have two daughters. I made them go to school today because the teachers weren’t striking, but I’m doing this for them. My 10-year-old made the sign.”
Cindy Greene “I’m striking from an interior design job. I’m here because I’m completely gutted by the state of affairs in our country, and the way women and so many minorities are treated and disrespected on a daily basis. I feel like Trump’s rhetoric has let the floodgates open, and let people speak to one another in ways that they shouldn’t.”
Patricia Mazuela “I am a second-grade teacher. I think it’s important to assert women’s rights for reproduction, for job equality, for equal pay, and for sexual expression. I’m totally against what this administration is doing for women.”
Lianne Kennedy “I work for a non profit. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fully strike today, but we came down during our lunch break.” Rachel Brosnahan “I’m between jobs right now, and am privileged to be here today. I came to support the people who couldn’t be here — the people who are most vulnerable under this administration. Minorities, trans men and women and gender non-conforming folk.”
Georgia Stockwell “We're here to shoot a film project.” Mabi Phillips “The project is called ‘Miss Freedom.’ It profiles inspiring women and documents what’s happening right now. I started it in D.C.”
Nadav Gait “I’m a research assistant. I believe in intersectionality. I’m an intersectional feminist.”
Shauna Neely “So many women have paved the way for me. I’m a mother, I’m a strong woman, I’m a business owner.”
Lizzy Divine “I work at DoSomething.org. We’re the largest organization for young people for social change.”
Bethany Taufiq “I brought my kids out from school and wanted to have them come down here to see what’s going on. This is not the future I want for my kids. What’s happening now is absolutely backwards, and if I were gone tomorrow, this is not what I would want for them. Every time I can get out, to protest, to write a postcard, to make a phone call, it’s all for the betterment of their future.”
“I'm here from Pratt and this tiara is by
. Think about what it would be like if all women were able to strike or take a day off especially in fashion, art, and education. Those industries would totally shut down. We’re powerful and we’re essential.”
Iza, Aalyaa, and Raihan Raihan: “We were walking through Central Park, and we saw this — we really wanted to be a part of it. It’s nice to be here in NYC and see this. We’re students visiting from Boston University.” Aalyaa: “We’re equal to men, and we matter. I feel so lucky to be part of this energy, especially on this day, International Women’s Day.”