PHOTOS: Pittsburghers Protest Gender Inequity On 'A Day Without A Woman'

Mar 8, 2017

Pittsburgh women rallied downtown Wednesday in solidarity against what some called decades of harmful and misogynistic policies.  

More than 300 people gathered outside the City-County Building -- most wearing red, the demonstration's nationally designated color -- to show the power of women and female-identified workers in society.

The event was organized in coordination with International Women’s Day and is a continuation of the Jan. 21 Women’s Marches, which were attended by millions of protesters across the world.

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Organizer Casandra Armour with the Socialist Alternative said intersectional feminism was important to the fight for equality in Pittsburgh. She said inclusivity in policy formation is necessary because every woman and female-identified person experiences bias.

"As a woman, I have faced a lot of different levels of oppression, as most of us have," Armour said. "So we're hoping to make it a more equal world for everybody."

Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday's protests focused on the absence of women who, in Pittsburgh, make up about 48 percent of the workforce. According to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research, Pittsburgh-area women earned about 75 cents to the dollar of their male colleagues.

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Hana Uman, another rally organizer, said that by standing outside the City-County Building, she hoped the group's message was heard by those who could create more equal policies. 

"We are all in this together," Uman said. "I hope it shows our local leaders that we actually have a mobilized group of citizens that are their constituents, not only on the local level, but the state level and in Congress."

According to U.S. Census data, in Pennsylvania, women are the sole breadwinner of nearly 596,000 households. About 29 percent of those two-child families earn less than the federal poverty level of $19,073.

Speakers at the local event included representatives from LGBT advocacy groups, disability rights organizations, Black Lives Matter and labor unions.

Each highlighted issues related to gender inequality from reproductive rights to the wage disparity. New Voices Pittsburgh was in Washington D.C. to protest the Trump administration’s “global gag rule,” which blocks the United States government from funding any foreign organization that provides education about abortion services. Representatives from local nonprofits Women & Girls Foundation and Just Harvest were also in the Capitol protesting outside the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Several local businesses showed their support by offering women the day off or closing in solidarity. In Lawrenceville, the female-owned grocery store, 52nd Street Market, closed for the day.

Troy Hill restaurant, Scratch F&B gave female employees a paid day off and will donate a portion of Wednesday’s revenue to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. Brillobox in Lawrenceville is donating the sales of drink specials to organizations that support girls and women’s causes.

Pittsburgh’s Reddit thread also featured a list of more than two dozen local businesses owned by women.

Pennsylvania has never had a female senator or governor. Area politicians and corporations have expressed their gratitude for women in the workplace today through social media.

Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement promoting an event taking place Thursday at Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, aimed at increasing the amount of female business owners in Pittsburgh.

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Organizers for "A Day Without a Woman" said they were inspired by the recent "Day Without an Immigrant" protests held last month. About 100 Pittsburgh immigrants and advocates rallied in the local event in the city’s Beechview neighborhood.

International Women’s Day was also celebrated in other parts of the world. German airline Lufthansa had six all-female crews flying from several cities in the country to Berlin. Sweden's women's football team replaced the names on the back of their jerseys with tweets from Swedish women "who have struggled to gain ground in their respective field." Finland announced plans to create a $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize. Women also held rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.