PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Organizers of the January Women's March are calling for women to take the day off and encouraging them not to spend money Wednesday to show their economic strength and impact on American society.
"A Day Without a Woman" is the first national action by organizers since the nationwide marches held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration that drew millions of women into the streets in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression.
Wednesday's event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women's Day, and organizers say they want to "stand with women around the globe" who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with similar protests in cities around the world.
Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers were inspired by the recent "Day Without an Immigrant" protests held last month. She said the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country's socioeconomics system and demonstrating how women's paid and unpaid work keeps households, communities and economies running.
"We do all of this and get paid less than men, get sexually harassed, get inadequate family leave," Findlay said. "We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it."
Unlike the Women's March, Wednesday's protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.
It is unclear how many women could participate in the action. More than a million people, mostly women, turned out nationwide for the Women's March. In New York, organizers are planning a gathering in Central Park at noon.
School districts including Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina, have canceled classes in anticipation of employee participation.
Some businesses have said they will either close or give female employees the day off. The event website provides templates for "out of office" emails, and an employer letter. The site had more than a half-million visitors, and more than 60,000 had clicked on the letter template Tuesday afternoon.
Organizers pointed out that only a fourth of participants in the Women's March signed up in advance to participate.
The role of women in American society is significant. According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce and are dominant in such professions as registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists. They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, as well as lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.
Still, American women continue to be paid less than men, earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The median income for women was $40,742 in 2015, compared with $51,212 for men, according to census data.
Palmira Figueroa, an organizer of the Seattle women's march, said the group recognizes many women cannot take the day off.
"It's just a big ask," said Figueroa, a fundraiser for an environmental group who does not plan to go to her job.
"We also want to be in solidarity with our community, knowing that many who can't decide tomorrow they can't work," she said.
Findlay said it is important for white women to be in solidarity with minority women.
"Throughout history, the strikes that have the biggest impact are the ones when people who are already the target of oppression participate," she said. "It's when women of all backgrounds strike and stand together that we're really going to see the impact."
Phuong Le in Seattle contributed to this report. Errin Haines Whack covers urban affairs for The Associated Press.