Amy Bell Hou is a writer, early childhood educator and mother living in Oakland. She is a co-founder of Drop Leaf Press, a women-operated poetry press based in San Francisco.
March 8 is International Women’s Day.
It’s also a day that multiple organizations for the advancement of women are calling for a women’s general labor strike. They’re calling it “A Day Without a Woman.”
The purpose of the strike is to shine a spotlight on “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”
Women are a vital, often undervalued sector of the labor force in the world. At our paid jobs, women typically earn less than men in the same roles and suffer career setbacks if they decide to have children. Women also typically take the lion’s share of domestic work, like cooking, cleaning, and child care. Such unpaid labor is vital to a functioning economy and ought to be recognized as such, yet motherhood remains the number one predictor of poverty.
At Heels of Success, we endeavor to support all women as they balance careers, partnerships, children, and their own growth as individuals. We hope our posts can help bring more women into positions of leadership, because we believe the goal of widespread gender parity in the American workplace — nothing less than a major cultural shift — is only going to come when women have an equal number of seats at the table where decisions are made.
As such, we stand in solidarity with women, trans people and their allies for A Day Without a Woman.
While many women, particularly those in the fields of healthcare, childcare, and elderly care may not be able to strike, there are still ways for women and their partners to show solidarity.
The Women’s March organizers have set up a good FAQ and resources page, which will guide you through ways to show your support. Read the full International Women’s Strike platform here.
- Avoid shopping on that day, unless the business is local or women-owned.
- Can’t strike? Wear red to show your support.
- Men can participate by bringing up equal pay and paid family leave with decision-makers at work, leaning into housework and care work for children, and reflecting on their own expectations of women co-workers.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
So often, I receive heartfelt messages from readers of this blog either thanking me for writing or telling me about a particular post they enjoyed. Recently, I heard from a CHOP employee, Julia Wicoff, who told me about how reading my blog lead her to advocate on behalf of herself. It meant so much to me to hear from her. She kindly agreed to give a testimonial with me to share with you. I hope this inspires you to take page out of Julia’s book!
“When I first heard that CHOP’s CEO, Madeline Bell, was writing a blog about elevating women in the workplace, I was interested and decided to take a look. Quickly, Heels of Success became part of my regular reading material. I feel like each post is written just for me. The topics that Madeline covers relate directly to what I am feeling and experiencing. As a result of reading the blog, I was inspired to approach the leadership in our department to indicate my commitment to a future in our organization. That conversation helped spur a promotion just a few months later. There is no doubt that without Heels of Success I wouldn’t have had the confidence to express my feelings and take the next step in my career!”
Julia Wicoff is the Director of Cause Marketing and the Children’s Miracle Network at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to that, she served as the Associate Director of Events Fundraising and Community Partnerships, also at CHOP. Before CHOP, she worked for organizations such as The American Cancer Society and The Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia, a place of many firsts, will provide the backdrop for yet another important milestone – the first Presidential nomination of a woman by a major party. At a time when women still experience pay disparity and serious lack of representation at the CEO and Board levels, this event supersedes politics – it’s an historic time.
England has a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is noted as not just one of the most powerful women in the world, but one of the most powerful people. These strides give me hope.
Having a female Presidential nominee brings to light important conversations. Though there have been legitimate concerns raised against Clinton’s candidacy, there have also been arguments that carry notes of the lasting sexism in our society. What I believe her candidacy has done, in part, is allowed our country to become more conscious of how we view female leaders, what qualities we praise in them and those that we criticize. Are they different than how we assess and measure male candidates? We now have a national stage for which to examine these issues.
Hillary Clinton herself has noted that she is not the most traditionally charismatic candidate, but is that because she is a woman? She is often criticized for being out of touch, overly strategic in her presentation, and inauthentic. I can’t help but wonder, how much of this criticism is due to ingrained expectations for how women “should” be, while Clinton simply embodies what many male candidates have before her – political savviness and leadership. Regardless of one’s political leanings, it’s important that we take a hard look at how we react to a woman who rises to the level of a Presidential nominee. What message are we sending young women through the tone of how she is judged and measured as a candidate? We must make sure it’s equal, fair and comparable to how we assess the male Presidential candidates.
Will the nomination of Hillary Clinton continue to help girls born today see leadership as a possibility without question? Let’s hope that it will. I look forward to participating in many of the exciting events taking place in Philadelphia during the DNC next week, and to sharing my reflections with all of you. What questions has this election raised for you about women’s roles in politics and leadership in general? Are you feeling optimistic or concerned? I would love to hear your thoughts.