A march took place in Center City Wednesday night as part of a nationwide demonstration calling for equality, justice and human rights for women around the world.
Demonstrators gathered at Logan Square and marched to Thomas Paine Plaza as part of the International Women's Day strike. Organizers of the January Women's March called for women to take the day off and encouraged them not to spend money Wednesday to show their economic strength and impact on the United States.
"A Day Without a Woman" is the first national action by organizers since the nationwide marches held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration that drew millions of women into the streets in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression.
Wednesday's event coincided with the U.N.-designated International Women's Day, and organizers said they wanted to "stand with women around the globe" who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with similar protests in cities around the world.
Spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said organizers were inspired by the recent "Day Without an Immigrant" protests held last month. She said the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country's socioeconomics system and demonstrating how women's paid and unpaid work keeps households, communities and economies running.
"We do all of this and get paid less than men, get sexually harassed, get inadequate family leave," Findlay said. "We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it."
Unlike the Women's March, Wednesday's protest focused on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also asked women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.
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In Philadelphia, a rally was held at the H.A. Brown Elementary School in Kensington at 7:30 a.m. The demonstration included informational pickets stating that Philadelphia teachers -- 75% of whom are women -- don't have a contract after more than 1200 days. Female students in 7th through 9th grade at Eastern University Academy Charter School also held a rally at McDevitt Park on 3531 Scotts Lane.
Some businesses said they would either close or give female employees the day off. The event website provided templates for "out of office" emails, and an employer letter. The site had more than a half-million visitors, and more than 60,000 had clicked on the letter template Tuesday afternoon.
Organizers pointed out that only a fourth of participants in the Women's March signed up in advance to participate.
The owners of the Grindcore House in Philadelphia closed their vegan coffee shop, where eight of the 10 employees are women.
"The place definitely wouldn't run without us," said Whitney Sullivan, a 27-year-old barista who planned to attend a rally.
The role of women in American society is significant. According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce and are dominant in such professions as registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists. They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, as well as lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.
Still, American women continue to be paid less than men, earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The median income for women was $40,742 in 2015, compared with $51,212 for men, according to census data.