Balancing Protest With Privilege

by The Cowl Editor on March 16, 2017


Photo courtesy of Dianna McDougall/Getty Images

by Bridget Blain ’19

Opinion Staff

This past Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to remembering the movement for women’s rights and to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world. It also serves as a reminder that gender equality is still not a reality in any country.

After the enormous turnout that the Women’s March had in January, the “A Day Without a Woman” protest was organized to coincide with International Women’s Day, and to bring attention to the importance of female workers to our current socio-economic system.

“A Day Without a Woman” was created to bring awareness to the role that women play in the workplace. The purpose of the protest was to have as many women as possible take the day off from both paid and unpaid work. This tactic, however, immediately drew harsh and undeserved criticism.

Thousands of people took to social media on Wednesday to accuse the protest of only catering to a small amount of privileged women who had the ability to miss a day of work. Countless articles were published that questioned the validity of a protest that seemed to leave out a major portion of the very women it was organized to fight for. While this criticism does have valid points—the majority of women who wanted to participate would be taking a major risk in not showing up to their job—critics are also missing the initial point of the protest was in the first place.

The purpose of any protest is to give a voice to a group being affected by injustice. It is unfair to act as if the organizers of “A Day Without a Woman” were thinking of how to organize a protest in such a way that only privileged, wealthy women could participate.

No, it is not realistic to expect all women to be able to drop everything and take the day off, but there were other ways to participate in the protest. Organizers of “A Day Without Women” encouraged women to do something as simple as wearing the color red that day in solidarity. What is important about a protest is not the economic or social privilege of some people who are participating.

“A Day Without a Woman” was not a perfect protest by any means, but that should not take away from the value of the movement. Taking action and bringing awareness to real and significant issues that affect almost every woman in the world is progress, no matter the privilege of some participants.