Women have always been a valuable and integral part of the economy, and women’s paid work is becoming increasingly important to family well-being. In 2015, 42 percent of mothers in the United States were breadwinners, and an additional 22.4 percent were co-breadwinners, making between 25 percent and 49 percent of household earnings. The women’s strike offers an opportunity to reflect on how important women’s labor is to the country and remind Americans of what remains to be done to accurately value the work that women do to sustain the nation’s families and economy.

A Day in the US Economy Without Women: Center for American Progress

I will wear red.jpg

A Day Without Women action shows the importance of teachers in public schools

How exactly would a day without women affect the economy? According to the Center for American Progress’ calculations based on the labor share of the gross domestic product, or GDP, and women’s relative pay and hours of work, women’s labor contributes $7.6 trillion to the nation’s GDP each year. In one year, women working for pay in the United States earn more than Japan’s entire GDP of $5.2 trillion. If all paid working women in the United States took a day off, it would cost the country almost $21 billion in terms of GDP. Moreover, women contribute many millions of dollars to their state’s GDP each day, making their work crucial to the health of their local economies as well.

A Day in the US Economy Without Women: Center for American Progress

On March 8th, in cities and townships around the country, women will be doing what they can to show unity and demand equality in all areas of their lives.

Per the A Day Without a Woman website:

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing 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. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

In parts of the country, due to the participation of teachers, most of whom are women, schools will be closed and in preschools, accommodations will be made for parents who are not participating in this day of peaceful action.

Sixteen schools will be closed in Alexandria, Virginia and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district superintendent has called for a teacher work-day to accommodate those teachers who want to participate in activities on March 8th.

The New School, a university in New York, has provided options for instructors who decide to join in the day of action.

In some areas of the country where teachers are concerned they will lose their jobs if they participate in a rally or march. the teachers have chosen instead to wear red in solidarity. As one teacher stated in a Huffington Post article:

“I’d likely lose my job if I just didn’t show up,” said Rachel Wright of Salt Lake City. “So, I will wear red, not spend money and incorporate a lesson about Women’s History Month.” 

a womens place.jpg

  Even if women’s paid work was valued more accurately, this still would not include the other ways in which women contribute to the economy. This is because economic measures such as GDP do not include unpaid labor, which is mostly taken on by women. Women in the United States spend 150 percent more time on housework than men and more than twice the time men spend on caregiving. This unpaid labor includes child care, caretaking, and cooking along with a variety of other tasks that are vital to the economy.

Although many women who care for their families do not receive a paycheck for doing this work, their labor is valuable and should be included in GDP. Economist Nancy Folbre notes the irony that “the measure we call gross domestic product excludes the value of most domestic work.” If a woman did not do that unpaid work, the family would have to hire someone and pay them a wage, contributing to GDP. Since unpaid work is not included in GDP measures, it could be said that the nation is consistently and significantly underestimating GDP. Using a conservative assumption, a 2015 report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that women’s unpaid work amounts to about $10 trillion per year, or about 13 percent of global GDP. Additionally, a paper from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis found that incorporating unpaid domestic work into U.S. GDP would have raised it 26 percent in 2010.

A Day in the US Economy Without Women: Center for American Progress


I will leave you with this conversation between Amy Goodman with Democracy Now and Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of the event.



Dora Taylor