Women across America are participating in “A Day Without Women” – a strike, a rally, or a protest, depending on who you ask. The goal behind this concerted effort is to highlight the paid and unpaid labor that is expected of women while they continue to suffer from a gender wage gap wider than almost every other developed country in the world. In the article headlined “The sorry state of America’s working women,” CBS News reports:
“On a number of fronts, American women who work outside the home are lagging their counterparts in countries such as Sweden, Mexico, Italy and Greece. U.S. women suffer from a gender wage gap that’s wider than in those and 17 other countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
The event seeks to highlight how essential women are to not only the American workforce but in covering “The Second Shift,” the care-taking of home and children women are expected to take on upon returning home from their jobs each day. Unfortunately, the strike itself represents a divide in privilege, as many of the women most affected by the wage gap – those in mid- to low-paying jobs – either cannot afford the wage loss or could potentially lose their jobs.
So who, exactly, is this protest representing?
“About two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in America are women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. They tend to be clustered in low-paid occupations that are associated with traditional “women’s work,” such as early childhood education and in cleaning services.”
It is, once again, a movement that remains tone deaf to the needs and restrictions faced by the very people it purports to represent. And here’s the thing: the work of women remains necessary to the health of our economy.
“By the EPI researchers’ estimates, if American women had the same labor force participation rate as in Germany, where about 79 percent of women work outside the home, it would boost U.S. GDP by 3.4 percent, adding $600 billion in extra economic activity.”
It is factually better for our country to encourage women to work outside the home. What will it take to compensate them fairly and foster an environment that places them in leadership positions and higher-paying jobs?