Students and faculty members sat on a red cloth on Fairfield Way for several hours on International Woman’s Day as they participated in an “A Day Without a Woman” sit-in strike organized by the Women’s Center in solidarity for the issue of women’s economic inequality.
Students wrote what A Day Without a Woman looked like to them on white boards and took pictures with signs provided by the Women’s Center.
“In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8 A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system,” eighth-semester communications major and graphic designer for UConn’s Women’s Center Mary Olmstead said.
A Day Without a Woman was a national effort started by the group that organized the Women’s March on Washington to show the impact of women on the economy. Women were encouraged to take the day off from paid or unpaid labor, refrain from purchasing anything except from stores owned by women or minorities or simply wear red in solidarity.
“We hope to show the world what it would be like if women were not there at work, in class, purchasing things, being present in society,” Olmstead said.
Olmstead said she estimates about 30 students participated in the sit-in and that the volunteers from the Women’s Center interacted with hundreds of others, talking with them and giving out information about the strike and International Women’s Day.
“I think we achieved our goal of educating the UConn community about why we were out here,” Olmstead said.
Hannah Fiducia, a senior history major who participated in the sit-in, said that she partook in the sit-in because she saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate her support for women’s socio-economic equality.
“I didn’t get a chance to go to the Women’s March after the election and I wanted to do something to show my support,” Fiducia said.
Fiducia said that as a history student, she sees the value of events like this.
“It’s important to be involved, especially as a history major, I don’t just want to (study) history, I want to be a part of it,” Fiducia said.
The date of the strike coincides with International Women’s Day.
UConn Sociology department head Manisha Densai said that International Women’s Day has a history in this country.
“International Women’s Day has been celebrated since it was established in 1908,” Densai said. “Because of the Women’s March, we thought we would mobilize.”
Densai said she is glad social media has allowed this movement to take hold across the nation.
“I think it’s great that social media allows us to work simultaneously from different places about issues that we care about,” Densai said.
Craig Alejos, a senior Human Development and Family Studies major, said that he attended the sit-in because he feels it is important to support women and minority groups.
“As a Women’s Center staff member I think it’s important to engage in all opportunities to empower women and minorities,” Alejos said.
Alejos said that he hopes this event, and others like it, help people realize the power of bringing all parts of the nation together.
“It’s the idea that a house divided doesn’t stand,” Alejos said. “So if we want to see a bright future, we need to stand together regardless of what labels we use to divide ourselves.”
Alejos said that he hopes people will realize the importance of women and minorities.
“As a single parent with an eight-year-old daughter, I hope that our nation can see, now more than ever, the importance of women and minorities in our nation,” Alejos said.
Lisa Famularo, a first-year grad student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs master’s program, said she thinks the strike will help people realize just how essential women are.
“The purpose of the event is to show that women are important,” Famularo said. “Without us, a lot wouldn’t get done.”
Famularo said that she hopes the message from the strike is applied after the event ends.
“We are important to the workforce today and every day,” Famularo said.