Dubbed "A Day Without a Woman," the nationwide events were modeled in part after pro-immigrant demonstrations on Feb. 16, the latest in a series of anti-Trump protests since his Nov. 8 election.
On International Women’s Day, the feminist icon Gloria Steinem used social media to encourage participants in the A Day Without a Woman strike, even as her mind was focused on another problem.
Steinem has been increasingly turning her attention to the challenges facing women and girls around the world, specifically through her work with Camfed, an organizatithat helps girls and young women in rural Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe receive an education. Alice Saisha, who at age 14 seemed destined for a dead-end life when she was set to be married off, is one of the girls Steinem has helped.
Saisha would have been among the six percent of girls in Zambia who are married by their 15th birthday, but then she got a scholarship and started going to school. Now 26, she mentors vulnerable girls—some as young as 10, and some who are also facing the prospect of being married off to older men.
Saish, right, was on her way to becoming a child bride at 14-years-old, but a scholarship from Camfed allowed her to pursue an education and opt out of the marriage. Shaminder Dulai
“For me, being destined as a child bride was traumatizing. I felt like my dreams were shattered, my doors of opportunity were closed,” says Saisha. “Looking back and telling my story and knowing it makes an impact in another child’s life is the positivity, a driving force for me. After I obtained an education it paved a way for my destiny.”
Related: Gloria Steinem: International Women’s Day highlights “a shared struggle”
Newsweek joined Saisha, Steinem and Camfed CEO Lucy Lake in Steinem’s New York City home on International Women’s Day. Throughout the day, women across the U.S. went on strike, or protested in other ways, against the state of women's right under President Donald Trump. We were gathered to talk about another important issue: how poverty robs girls of education, and so often results in child marriages. An estimated one in three girls around the world are married before they turn 18, according to Girls Not Brides.
“In rural areas, most girls do not have the voice to speak about some of the challenges they encounter,” says Saisha, as Steinem’s cat hops onto the sofa and curls into her lap. The high rates of child marriage are "not because the parents do not want to take the responsibility, it’s because there’s no funding, no finance to help cover such a cost.”
Steinem highlights the role that men can play when it comes to women’s rights, not only in countries like Zambia but in the U.S. “Men in Zambia could refuse to marry women who are too young and or not marrying out of their own free will. Men in other African countries are saying they will not only not insist upon female genital mutilation as a condition of marriage, but they won’t accept it,” she says.
In the United States, she says, men can help by "looking around where they work and comparing salaries and saying this isn’t fair, or just the absence of women and the absence of women and men of color. If it doesn’t look like the country where you are, there’s probably something wrong.”
Steinem also spoke about the Global Gag Rule reinstated by Trump, one of his first actions in office. Also known as the Mexico City Policy, the new and expanded order bans U.S. foreign aid from going to any organization that suggests abortion as a family planning option or that refers patients to facilities that perform abortions. No U.S. funding has been used for abortions since 1973.
Advocates say the order puts at risk the health of women around the world. The rule now extends to facilities that provide health services for HIV and AIDS.
“We, in the United States, owe an apology to the women of the world, and Africa especially, for electing an administration which has not only reinstituted the Mexico City Policy—which in the past has resulted in the death of a woman every five minutes because of illegal abortions and withdrawing U.S. funds from clinics,” says Steinem. “Now it’s extended to AIDS programs, so it will be a death in even less than five minutes. That is our shame here.”
“The message is that the minority of people that voted for him—it was not a majority—came from very right-wing religious groups and right-to-life groups,” she adds. “I don’t think [Trump] believes it for a millisecond, but he was doing it to reward his constituency.”
For women everywhere, including Saisha and the girls and young women she works with, reproductive rights and maintaining the ability to decide when and whether to have children “is actually the single biggest determinant of whether we’re healthy or not, whether we’re educated or not, whether we work outside the home or not, and how long we live,” says Steinem.
She adds: “Just controlling our own physical selves and saying, 'Wait a minute, the power of the government stops at our skin,' is something that the women of Zambia and the women of the United States have in common.”
photo of Gloria Steinem's next chapter: Educating girls in rural Africa
In Washington, D.C., this week, no sartorial choice mattered more than your headwear. An estimated 500,000 demonstrators, many of them wearing pink 'pussyhat' tuques, clogged the city's streets on Saturday to bring attention to human-rights issues and protest U.S. President Donald Trump.
Entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte, who’s been advising organizers of Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, says peaceful protest is the best way to show political leaders that the electorate is paying attention.
At an exhibition of Annie Leibovitz portraits of famous women, Steinem told the audience, “We may look up and feel powerless and think there’s nothing we can do, but it’s not true.”
As a teenager, Neelam Ibrar Chattan began working to promote peace in Pakistan’s conflict-torn Swat Valley. Now 23, she’s taking a stand in her male-domi...
The feminist icon sat down with Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman on ‘Chelsea’ to discuss the Trump camp’s obsession with Hillary Clinton’s physical fitness.
Jeremy Scott fondly recalled an ‘80s New York that was a lot more grungy. Proenza Schouler did some radical work with ostrich feathers. And Serena Williams focused on female empowerment. Some highlights:
Steinem's best-selling memoir is now in paperback.
The iconic fashion figure and her teenager sit down to chat about their careers and how they mimic each other
Margaret Thatcher became the first UK female prime minister in 1979; Theresa May is now its second. What has changed for women worldwide since 1979?
- J.D. Power & Associates 8 most dependable cars, minivan
- Wake up to this crazy good Goo Goo barbecue biscuit from Holler & Dash
- Muscle Shoals Swampers, Jimmy Hall appear in Bayside Academy music showcase
- New York City Ballet dancer returns to Alabama for "The Sleeping Beauty"
- Who should replace Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on 'SNL'?
- Jimmy Buffett to return to The Wharf in Orange Beach
- Beer garden in the works for downtown Montgomery
- Weekend box office: 'Logan' tears up opening weekend with $85.3M debut
- Resumes are more art than science
- How to open a resume: Objective statement vs. qualifications summary
- Don't confuse a resume with an autobiography
- Do I really need a cover letter? Plus more common resume questions
- Tim Tebow stalked by Colorado woman at Mets spring camp: cops
- KING: The Democratic Party doesn't get why it's so unpopular
- Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy Obamacare replacement should be called ‘Abominable Care’
- Fisher’s finish leads to Match Play and a shot at Masters
- Robinson, Lind ready for a spring training job fight
- World Baseball Classic failing to draw interest of American fans
- Ben Carson confirmed by Senate as HUD secretary
- Proposed $54B jump in defense budget won’t help economy much
- EPA head Scott Pruitt wonders what all the fuss is about over carbon dioxide
- Guns in America: Bill seeks to reverse a decades-old ban on gun-violence research
- LGBTQ veterans slam organizers for barring group from Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade
- Trump vowed to expand the number of U.S. aircraft carriers despite mounting vulnerabilities
- Trump's 'beachhead:' The president has quietly installed hundreds in federal jobs
- Are Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies working?
- Why has Trump appointed one of his critics as Russian ambassador?
- Women rally for equality, and against Trump, on International Women's Day
- CIA contractors potential source behind latest WikiLeaks release
- Texas moves to curb transgender bathroom access amid protests
- Does Ivanka Trump back or oppose abortion rights?
- Rod Rosenstein nomination: What’s it really about?
- In Trump's coming battle with Congress, who wins and who loses?
- Powerful winds whip through the Great Lakes region
- Vehicles have been trapped at Biloxi crash site before
- Military looking into reports of more nude photo groups
- At 7, this boy runs a company and saves for college
- Gay veterans group says it's not allowed in Boston St. Patrick's parade
- Strange new twist in coldest murder case
- “Public safety crisis,” State troopers prepare for ‘sinister’ budget cuts