“It’s costing me money to do this,” she said, “but if I don’t fight for what’s right for me, who will?”
Access to paid leave also cuts across racial lines. Since black and Hispanic families are twice as likely to be among the working poor than white and Asian households are, these female breadwinners are less likely to be able to join the strike without financial damage.
Then there’s the women who could lose their jobs if they miss a day on the clock. Half of American mothers ages 18 to 34, for example, aren’t eligible for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to a January analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a District think tank. (The law provides job-protected days off mostly to full-time workers at companies with more than 50 employees.)
“The higher-income women, largely working in white-collar jobs — white women — are the ones more likely to take paid leave in order to participate,” said Jessica Milli, study director at the institute. “The women most impacted by the issues this whole movement is about are the ones least likely to take that leave in order to participate.”
The organizers of A Day Without a Woman acknowledge the uneven access on their website. “Many women in our most vulnerable communities will not have the ability to join the strike, due to economic insecurity,” they wrote. “We strike for them. Many others work jobs that provide essential services, including reproductive health services, and taking off work would come at a great social cost. We recognize the value of their contribution.”