Wednesday won’t be business as usual on Hampden’s bustling 36th Street, where female business owners plan are displaying vibrant flashes or red in their storefronts and holding events for women to speak out for their rights.
Across the country today, women will join together in an act of “economic solidarity” by holding protests, striking from work or through a simple act of wearing red or proudly displaying the color in their storefronts. The organizers of the successful January Women’s March on Washington called for the demonstrations.
“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,” reads a statement from organizers in Baltimore.
About 20 minority- or female-owned stores in Hampden have coordinated for a visual protest. At Milk and Ice Vintage, an antiques and clothing store on The Avenue, a bright display of red garments sits in the front. Next door, Charlotte Elliott and the used book shop The Book Store Next Door have put up a life-sized red display of streamers in what appears to be the shape of dream catcher, alongside quotes from famous female authors Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.
“I want to say at least 70 percent of the businesses in Hampden are owned by women,” estimated Sandy Piper, owner of Sandy’s on 36th Street. Her store is offering a discount of 10 percent to all customers for International Women’s Day, the broader global holiday coinciding with today’s protests.
Piper said she sees the coordination among female business owners as empowering. “Our rights now are a lot better than they were 50 years ago, absolutely, but we’ve gotten here because of strong women standing up for us,” Piper said. “So of course we’ve got to stand up for our future.”
Down the street at the sex shop Sugar, the owners plan to remain open, but are hosting an event where women can write postcards to their legislators. They’re also offering a 20 percent discount on select merchandise, “since you probably get paid at least 20% less then your male counterparts,” they wrote on Facebook.
While there may be sales and quieter acts of resistance in Hampden, today’s demonstrations carry consequences across the state. In Prince George’s County, schools closed after 1,700 teachers decided to stay away from work today.
Protests are also planned. In Baltimore, women and their allies are set to gather at Lake Montebello at noon for a rally and walk for both women’s rights and funding for Baltimore City Public Schools. Then, at 3 p.m., protesters will convene in Station North and march down N. Charles Street to the Women’s Detention Center and, from there, to the remnants of McKeldin Plaza.
Click here for more information on the national “A Day Without a Woman” movement.
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