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I was raised by two amazing parents who taught me to always stand up for what I believe in, be a professional, and follow through on my commitments. Growing up, my mom sometimes worked late nights because her job demanded it. As an educator, she knew the importance her work had on the lives of so many. Seeing her example, I made the choice as an adult to be the most impactful, indispensable, influential person I could be in my community, school, and workplace, just like she was.
Thousands of women across the nation took the day off today as a political statement a part of the “A Day Without A Woman” initiative. I did not participate in this day primarily because I know that my value to the organizations I work for far extends my gender and any political point I have to prove. I did not participate because, just like my mom, I wanted to improve others lives, despite any obstacles I might face. I did not participate because I know that part of being an empowered woman is knowing that you are more than your gender.
As a woman who saw no gain in staying home today, I have one question for the women who did: what could we possibly hope to accomplish by being absent?
In the wise words of advice I received from Peggy Grande, being present is the most important thing you can be. To make any kind of a difference you have to be present, face perseverance, and willing to face obstacles head on. That is the exact opposite of what the women who went on strike today did, despite their claims. Instead of being present and showing the world just how much women have to offer, thousands of women stayed home and allowed their counterparts to do their jobs for them. They showed a lack of concern for their obligations, and said that their political beliefs are in fact more important than being a professional.
Standing up for what you believe in is important, but if you’ve worked your entire life to reach a certain level of success, why let someone take that away from you for one day? Why let anyone believe for even a single second that they could do your job better than you can simply because you stayed home? Why let them believe that you’re replaceable?
Today, schools in Alexandria, Virginia had to close because so many teachers requested the day off. I can only imagine how many businesses, organizations, and people were impacted for the same reasons across the nation. What about the single mom in Alexandria working two jobs who can’t afford to take the day off, and is struggling to find child care? What about the elderly woman who needed to discuss her financials, but her banker was out of the office? What about the injured young woman who needed a splint, but the doctor was out of the office? How were any of those women empowered? How did any of those women benefit from a “day without women”?
I can get behind anyone who uses their right to free speech in a way they feel makes a difference, but I do think there’s a better way to do it. Imagine if all of striking teachers had been at school today, taught young women in their classes, and showed them the value of honoring a commitment. What if every mother who wanted to stay home instead went to work and showed her children the value of determination and dedication? What if instead of striking, we all worked that much harder, and made someone else’s job a little easier? What if instead of using threats, we used kindness and compassion?