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International Women's Day prompts U.S. women to show strength

Day Without a Woman

PHILADELPHIA -- Some American women stayed home from work, joined rallies or wore red to demonstrate their economic clout Wednesday as part of a multitude of International Women’s Day events held around the globe.

The Day Without a Woman protest in the U.S. was put together by organizers of the vast women’s marches that drew more than 1 million Americans into the streets the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The turnout this time appeared in many places to be far smaller. And there were no immediate estimates of how many women heeded the call to skip work.

A crowd of about 1,000 people, the vast majority of them women, gathered on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of Trump Tower. Women wore red and waved signs reading “Nevertheless she persisted,” ‘’Misogyny out of the White House now” and “Resist like a girl.”

“Trump is terrifying. His entire administration, they have no respect for women or our rights,” said 49-year-old Adina Ferber, who took a vacation day from her job at an art gallery to attend the demonstration. “They need to deal with us as an economic force.”

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School in such places as Prince George’s County, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, canceled classes after hundreds of teachers and other employees let it be known they would be out.

In Alexandria, Virginia, 300 of the district’s 1,400 educators stayed home, forcing the schools to close, CBS News’ Anna Werner reported. 

Self-employed mother Anna Jaeger took her four children to the playground instead.

“My 6th grader just finished up a National History Day project where the theme was people taking a stand in history. So today he gets to see his teachers taking a stand,” Jaeger said.

District spokesperson Helen Lloyd said the closure decision was based on safety. 

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“What do you say to parents who say, ‘You’re closing because of this?’” CBS News asked Lloyd. 

“We’ve had that reaction and we understand it. For us, it’s not because of any political reason or because of any cause ... it is simply caused by looking at the data,” she said. 

In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court closed for lack of staff members.

Others marked the day in difference ways. Alexandria’s Jill Erber, who owns three wine and cheese shops, said she was making her own statement. 

“To me the best way to demonstrate the strength of women in the workplace is to be in the workplace and to grow our businesses and employ the women we employ,” Erber said.

Teen Vogue was among the websites marking the day by not publishing new content.

In Washington, more than 20 Democratic female representatives walked out of the Capitol to address a cheering crowd of several hundred people.

“We walked out to say enough is enough,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, said, Werner reported.

Dressed in red, the lawmakers criticized efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi encouraged more women to go into politics, saying, “You have marched for progress. Now you must run for office.”

A few hundred people gathered on the lawn outside Los Angeles City Hall to rally for women’s rights. Julie D’Angelo took the day off from her job in music licensing, saying she wanted to stand for those women who can’t afford time away from work or are too intimidated to ask for the day off.

Hundreds of women dressed in red and held signs with photos of their local lawmakers gathered at the Utah Capitol to remind legislators they are closely watching how they handle women’s issues.

In Denver, several hundred people marched silently around the state Capitol. Kelly Warren brought her daughters, ages 3 and 12.

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“We wanted to represent every marginalized woman whose voice doesn’t count as much as a man’s,” said Warren, a sales associate in the male-dominated construction industry.

Some businesses and institutions said they would either close or give female employees the day off.

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.

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The U.S. event - inspired in part by the Day Without an Immigrant protest held last month - was part of the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day.

In Warsaw, thousands of women showed Poland’s conservative government red cards and made noise with kitchenware to demand full birth control rights, respect and higher pay. Hollywood star Jessica Chastain joined one of Warsaw’s protests.

In Rome, hundreds of women set off on a march from the Colosseum to demand equal rights. Germany’s Lufthansa airline had six all-female crews flying from several cities in the country to Berlin.

Thousands marched in Istanbul, despite restrictions on demonstrations imposed since last year’s failed coup. Turkish police did not interfere.

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Sweden’s women’s soccer team replaced the names on the backs of their jerseys with tweets from Swedish women. Finland announced a new $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize. Women also held rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.

In New York, a statue of a fearless-looking girl was placed in front of Wall Street’s famous charging bull sculpture. The girl appeared to be staring down the animal. A plaque at her feet read: “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”

On “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said that her mother taught her that being a woman was an advantage.

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“It is very important for women to show their strength because women are strong, and it’s important that we show our strength,” von Furstenberg said.

As part of the Day Without a Woman protest, women were also urged to refrain from shopping.

Some criticized the strike, warning that many women cannot afford to miss work or find child care. Organizers asked those unable to skip work to wear red in solidarity.

Monique LaFonta Leone, a 33-year-old health care consultant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had to work but put on a red shirt and donated to charity, including Planned Parenthood.

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“I have bills to pay, but I wanted to make my voice heard, no matter how quiet,” she said. “I also wanted to make a statement to say that women are doing it for themselves. We’re out here in the workforce and making a difference every day.”

Mr. Trump took to Twitter to salute “the critical role of women” in the U.S. and around the world. He tweeted that he has “tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”

First lady Melania Trump marked the day by hosting a luncheon at the White House for about 50 women.

The White House said none of its female staff members skipped work in support of International Women’s Day.

Ivanka Trump echoed her father’s sentiments, tweeting: “Today, we celebrate women and are reminded of our collective voice and the powerful impact we have on our societies and economies.”

Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a female-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, offered tattoos with messages like “Nevertheless, She Persisted” - a reference to the recent silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor - with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.

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Women make up more than 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and are dominant among registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists, according to the census.

They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, and the same with lawyers and judges. Women also account for 55 percent of all college students.

At the same time, American women earn 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.