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Boston Celebrates International Women's Day

Quiana Ferguson sticks her head through a cardboard cut-out copy of the iconic Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It" poster. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Quiana Ferguson sticks her head through a cardboard cut-out copy of the iconic Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It" poster. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A number of rallies and events took place around Greater Boston on Wednesday to mark International Women's Day.

Some women also wore red, took the day off of work or avoided shopping at businesses not owned by women or minorities as part of a national strike called "A Day Without A Women." The strike was planned by organizers of the Women's March on Washington to highlight the socioeconomic impact women have in the U.S.

Some businesses also offered deals in support of the women's day.

In Boston, around 200 demonstrators gathered in Downtown Crossing late Wednesday afternoon for "A Day Without Women" rally. They carried signs that read "solidarity with women everywhere" and "resistance is not futile." About 20 local groups coordinated the rally to "show the power of women," according to Monique Nguyen, the executive director of Matahari Women Workers' Center, a women's social justice organization.

"We’re raising awareness about pay equity issues and also our consumer power," she said.

Pay equity was top of mind for many in the crowd. The rally kicked off with a series of chants about equal pay. "Equal work! Equal pay!" the crowd shouted.

Katie Riel, a 33-year-old librarian who lives in West Roxbury, said she's also concerned about pay equity, particularly for marginalized communities. She wore a red scarf around her neck and took half the day off work for the women's day strike.

"The climate with the president that we have just makes me really nervous," Riel said. "It's important that we keep the pressure on our representatives even here in Massachusetts where we have very liberal representatives. We need to support their positions and tell them that we're angry and to keep up the good fight."

One local leader, City Councilor-at-Large Annissa Essaibi-George, took the stage at the rally and urged the crowd of mostly women to run for public office.

"There aren't enough of us yet," Essaibi-George said. "It is time for women to be at the big kid's table."

Just a few yards away Stephanie Bragg, 34, of Norwood held a sign that read, "Women must decide their fate not the church or the state."

"I think what is going on right now in our country is a concern for all citizens, particularly women, and we need to defend and protect the rights that are important to all of us," Bragg said. She's particularly concerned about the rights of transgender people.

Organizers of the rally said they also wanted to raise awareness about labor rights, women's reproductive rights and violence against women.

"We want to make sure women are not exploited because of their gender, and [that they don't] experience violence because of who they are," said Nguyen, whose organization also advocates for immigrant women and domestic workers.

Many people also used the day to celebrate the accomplishments of women.

Earlier Wednesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh attended an event honoring women hosted by the International Institute of New England.

"I'm a labor guy. I stand for equal pay for equal work," Walsh told a crowd of more than 350 businesswomen. "We're going to stand for women's health. We're also going to make sure that we celebrate the diversity of our city."

The city has been trying to address the gender wage gap by offering free salary negotiation workshops for women in Boston and working with employers to address issues around equality. A report released by the city in January found women in Greater Boston earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Walsh said the city has made some gains, but there's more work to do.

Nationally, women earn 80 cents for every dollar men make, according to a report released last fall from the American Association of University Women.

Here are scenes from the "A Day Without Women" march in downtown Boston:

Laura Shapiro held a sign that reads, "Men of quality don't fear equality." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Laura Shapiro held a sign that reads, "Men of quality don't fear equality." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Noelle Cocoros, a research scientist at Harvard Medical School, held a sign that read, "U.S. out of my uterus" during the "A Day Without Women" rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Noelle Cocoros, a research scientist at Harvard Medical School, held a sign that read, "U.S. out of my uterus" during the "A Day Without Women" rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Deb Mensinger (left) and Caroline Sunshine joined the rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Deb Mensinger (left) and Caroline Sunshine joined the rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston City Councilor-at-Large Annissa Essaibi-George spoke during the "A Day Without Women" rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston City Councilor-at-Large Annissa Essaibi-George spoke during the "A Day Without Women" rally at Downtown Crossing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Three-year-old Ella Berg Power of Worcester wore a "Power To The People" patch on her back. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Three-year-old Ella Berg Power of Worcester wore a "Power To The People" patch on her back. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Artist Bethany Ericson held up a sign at the "A Day Without Women" rally. Around 200 people gathered in downtown Boston for the event. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Artist Bethany Ericson held up a sign at the "A Day Without Women" rally. Around 200 people gathered in downtown Boston for the event. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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