CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Orlando Cruz is taking Wednesday, March 8, as an unpaid day off from The Cleveland Clinic in honor of International Women's Day and a #DayWithoutAWoman.
"It is so important to me, because I see and feel women don't get treated fairly and finally now, I can do something that can truly help," Cruz said via email. He sees taking part in the event as "making a statement on not only the huge impact women have in this country, but that they deserve equality if not more."
"I am wearing red in support and spreading the word," he added. "I have encouraged my girlfriend, mother, siblings and coworkers to participate," and all are taking the day off from their jobs as well.
As happened before the Jan. 21 Women's March, no one knows how many women will participate in a #DayWithoutAWoman events here and around the world. The event came out of conversations following the massive Women's March on Washington, D.C., the day after President Trump's inauguration.
But organizers are hoping for a massive and impossible-to-ignore demonstration of economic solidarity to promote equity, justice and and human rights for women and gender-oppressed people.
"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," it says on the Women's March website.
Organizers invite "anyone, anywhere" to participate 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 (except at small, women- and minority-owned businesses)
-- 3. Wear red in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman.
"We invite people to the rally and march, men and women alike, and need them there to help us raise awareness on women and children's rights issues and heightened violence against women internationally," said Kathy Wray Coleman, a Cleveland activist, head of the Imperial Women Coalition, and editor of Cleveland Urban News.com.
"The city of Cleveland will never be a great major American city as long as women and children are popping up dead at an alarming rate and teens, a disproportionate number of them Black, are missing in large numbers while professional baseball, football and basketball remain a higher priority of city officials and policy makers locally, statewide and nationally," she said via email.
The event was inspired by "recent courageous actions like the 'Bodega strike' lead by Yemeni immigrant store owners in New York City and the Day Without Immigrants across the U.S." and movements like #GrabYourWallet.
"When millions of us stood together in January, we saw clearly that our army of love greatly outnumbers that of fear, greed and hatred," the Women's March website says. "Let's raise our voices together again, to say that women's rights are human rights, regardless of a woman's race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability."
The website also includes a sample letter participants can send their supervisors explaining their decision to take the day off.
The letter says: "I hope you will stand in support of me, and any of my women colleagues who choose to participate, in observance of this day. Places of employment can participate by closing for the day or giving women workers the day off, whether paid or unpaid."
"Even more important than the symbolism of standing with women on March 8, the Women's March is asking all employers to perform an audit of their policies impacting women and families. By ensuring that women have pay equity, a livable wage and paid leave, businesses can demonstrate that their long-term actions align with the values we are standing up for on this day."
The letter concludes: "At an increasingly insecure time for the rights of women and other minority groups, it is important to me that I also stand for the value of equality. I hope you will support me in my decision."
Marty Krebs, a community political organizer and a supervisor at a 3D printing lab in Cleveland, says local participants are invited to gather at 4:30 p.m. at the FREE stamp in Willard Park next to Cleveland City Hall. A Facebook page says there will be speeches highlighting women's issues before everyone marches over to the Old Stone Church on Public Square by 6 p.m.
Although participants don't have to let anyone know they're coming, he expects at least a few hundred people to show up.
Karianne Stanton will be among them. "I strike for my loved ones & my country," she recently tweeted. We deserve a world in which we are truly equal. We ALL deserve better!"
-- karianne stanton (@kxrianne) February 25, 2017
Krebs said that whatever people decide to wear or to write on their signs, they will find like-minded people at the rally. "It's not just women who care about women's issues," Krebs said. "We all care. Women are a vital part of the economic ecosystem."
"You can be mad, but the primary goal is to be empowering," he said.