Women are encouraged to wear red, take off work and not spend money on Wednesday


Women throughout Metro Detroit and the nation plan to wear red, take off work and not spend money to support “A Day Without a Woman” on Wednesday.

The one-day protest is designed to show women’s economic strength and impact on American society and coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day.

Organizers say they want to “stand with women around the globe.” They also want to show solidarity to the majority-women protests held around the world after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

Women are encouraged to wear red to signify love, sacrifice and resistance. The movement is also asking women to refrain from shopping in stores or online to show the power of their dollar.

Heather Saunders, a Southfield photographer and mother of three kids, plans to support the day by not making any purchases.

“Wednesdays are normally my day to shop for groceries. I have made adjustments to my schedule this week to ensure that I do not add any of my hard-earned dollars to the economic cycle for the day,” Saunders said. “I hope women all over the country understand that there are other ways of supporting without missing work.”

Phoebe Hopps, Michigan organizer for the January Women’s March in Washington, D.C., said “if you are able to take off from work or school, you should.”

She noted that some women can’t miss work if they’re first responders or run child care centers, “but there are other ways to get involved.”

Hopps, for example, plans to transfer her bank account to a credit union.

“We’re telling people to divest in bigger banks and move to smaller local business like teacher credit unions,” she said.

An alternative to not spending money is to support women-owned businesses.

“While women are encouraged to strike, we realized that supporting women-owned businesses might be fruitful in our communities,” Hopps said.

As a result, the 35-year-old Traverse City resident organized a “biz crawl” that will stop at a women-owned coffee shop, bookshop, gallery and brewery. She encourages crawlers to bring their march signs and pink pussy hats.

Women-owned businesses are also finding ways to give back. Citizen Yoga studio will donate proceeds from the 8:30 a.m. class in Royal Oak to Haven, a Pontiac shelter and counseling center for domestic violence victims.

“Citizen Yoga makes such a deep impact in the lives of all people so to close down did not feel like the right thing,” said owner Kacee Must, who decided to “do good for the community” instead. “The charity is chosen purposefully to show support to women who have faced a lot of adversity.”

The Farmer’s Hand, a women-owned organic market in Corktown, is donating 20 percent of cafe sales to Detroit’s Mercy Education Project, which supports low-income girls and women with educational programs. Co-founder Kiki Louya said they chose that number because, on average, women make 20 cents less then their male counterparts.

“So the Farmer’s Hand will donate our 20 cents for every dollar sold in the cafe to educate and empower other women to follow their dreams and find hope for the future,” Louya said.

She added that after working many years in predominately male-driven industries, she and co-founder Rohani Foulkes strive to provide a supportive work environment for their mostly female staff.

“We know they rely on steady pay and reliable hours to earn a living wage, which is why we thought the best way to participate in this protest is stand strong together and give back to a nonprofit who believes as much in equality as we do,” Louya said.

Alleah Webb, owner of the mobile coffee truck Drifter Coffee, will give free coffee to anyone wearing red at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market Food Truck Rally, 5-9 p.m. Wednesday.

“As a woman-owned business, I have experienced some setbacks just based on my gender, and I want to raise awareness that this is really a problem in our country,” Webb said, “and we should all work together to end discrimination based on gender.”

Other events include a day of action organized by the A2 Women's Strike coalition. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the group will host a “solidarity space” at University of Michigan’s North Quad for a clothing swap and children’s book read-in. Participants can also make materials for a 5 p.m. rally at Liberty Plaza.

Though the day has been planned for weeks, Hopps said interest picked up Tuesday.

“Every hour I’m getting a new alert that there’s another event around the state that I don’t know about,” she said.

International Women’s Day has been observed globally since the early 1900s, and many Women’s March leaders originally suggested planning the D.C. march on the same day. While they wound up with two days supporting women, Hopps said it worked out well to keep the momentum going.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the Women’s March a day after Trump’s inauguration, including over 9,000 from Michigan.

“Just like we did on Jan. 21, we’d like to unite with people and support this (cause),” Hopps said.

Sarah DeFlon, a University of Michigan hospital nurse, has the day off Wednesday. She’s decided to honor A Day Without a Woman by volunteering with the nonprofit ONE to deliver petitions advocating for the international affairs budget to the offices of Rep. Debbie Dingell and Sen. Gary Peters.

“Extreme poverty disproportionately affects women and girls globally,” DeFlon said. “The international affairs budget is less than 1 percent of our federal budget but delivers life-saving aid, including help providing medicines to fight TB, malaria and AIDS. ... On a ‘Day without Women,’ what could be more important?”


(313) 222-2156

Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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