Megan Peters delivered handwritten letters to the Kansas offices of her U.S. senators about funding an international affairs budget that could support an educational program for African girls.
Casey and Sloan Simmons, the owners of a Brookside boutique, used a Facebook Live broadcast to share the history of International Women’s Day and encourage Kansas Citians to support female-owned businesses.
And across the country, women stayed home from work, zipped up their wallets, wore red and joined rallies across the country to demonstrate their economic clout Wednesday as part of International Women’s Day events held across the globe.
“We were raised by strong hardworking early-feminist women who really wanted to instill in us that women are valuable and we need to value ourselves and each other,” Casey Simmons said. “That’s a message that we were taught from the time we were born throughout our entire lives.”
While the Simmons sisters kept their store with a predominantly female staff open Wednesday and gave shout-outs to other businesswoman in the area online, others across the country stayed home from work to participate in the Day Without a Woman strike.
The protest was put together by the organizers of the women’s marches held coast to coast the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
School districts including those in Prince George’s County, Md.; Alexandria, Va., and Chapel Hill, N.C., canceled classes because so many teachers and other employees were expected to be out. In Providence, R.I., the municipal court closed for lack of staff members.
Rallies were planned in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Washington and Berkeley, Calif. Protesters blocking traffic near Columbus Circle in New York City, outside the Trump International Hotel, were arrested, including several organizers associated with the Women’s March on Washington, according to media reports Wednesday.
In the U.S., spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers of A Day Without a Woman were inspired by the Day Without an Immigrant protest held last month. Findlay said the action was aimed at highlighting the importance of women to the country’s socio-economic system and demonstrating how the paid and unpaid work of women keeps households, communities and economies running.
“We provide all this value and keep the system going and receive unequal benefits from it,” she said.
As part of the “Day Without a Woman” event, women were urged to take part in local rallies and refrain from shopping in stores or online. Organizers asked those unable to skip work to wear red as a sign of solidarity.
Although reports of massive walk-outs did not appear to materialize in Kansas City, some who took off work said the day was more about promoting women’s issues than making a political statement.
Peters, a self-employed photographer and freelance writer, said she didn’t schedule clients at her photo studio in Overland Park in order to promote causes associated with the ONE Organization, an international nonprofit that works to eradicate poverty and disease in Africa and recently launched an education initiative for girls.
Instead, Peters delivered petitions and handwritten letters to the offices of Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, asking lawmakers to set aside federal funds for its international affairs budget.
“In this political climate, it’s really important to bring some acknowledgment to issues that are bipartisan,” Peters said. “If we can find one thing to work on together, than we can start the process. That’s why I liked this cause, on this day.”
Simmons said she and her sister had been experimenting with video posts to connect with their customers, and wanted to send a special message Wednesday.
“Women’s equality is important to us,” Simmons said. “Women should have the same opportunities socially, politically. We need to use our voices to insist that we are treated on the same level playing field.”
And while Simmons said she hadn’t seen an uptick in business as of Wednesday afternoon, it was very clear that customers were aware of the day of recognition.
“It is nice to know people are aware of it and that this conversation is part of their day,” Simmons said. “What is my role in raising up women and girls?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.