Utah women hold “Day Without Women” gathering at Capitol Hill

Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 16:44:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Women in Utah stood with others across the globe who are striking in solidarity Wednesday to say they will no longer be ignored.

Catherine Bergstrom skipped work and kept her 5th-grade son home from school Wednesday, and she says she’s teaching him about civic responsibility.

“I told my boss I wasn't gonna be at work today, that I had some civil duties to uphold rather than some work duties for the day, and they were very supportive," she said.

She joined dozens of women at Capitol Hill wearing the color red. They’re supporting “A Day Without Women”, which coincides with International Women’s Day.

The group, Utah Women Unite, encouraged supporters to take the day off and not spend money.

According to the Centers for American Progress, if all paid women were to take Wednesday off, it could cost the U.S. almost $21 billion in Gross Domestic Product.

“We're all taking a day off to say the status of women in 2017 is unacceptable,” said Chelsey Shields, Executive Director of Utah Women Unite.

While a strike is meant to shut down the economy, Utah women focused more on meeting face-to-face with lawmakers, after failed attempts throughout the legislative session.

“About half didn't respond to an invitation for a meeting, of the ones who met with us, [they] say our voices don't even matter, to our faces,” Shields said.

Women held signs with a photo of each lawmaker waiting for the opportunity to talk about issues impacting them, such as unequal pay, balancing career and children, sexual violence and reproductive rights.

“A number of them, we still feel, just aren't listening," said Psarah Johnson of Utah Women Unite. "When that happens the American people have no other option then to step it up."

Utah Women Unite say they are a bipartisan group that represents women from all walks of life. Even if some couldn’t participate at Wednesday’s gathering, their cause still moves forward.

“When you are a single mother trying to take care of your family, taking a day off decides whether or not your kids eat," Johnson said. "We're not going to judge that."