By Brittany Hailer
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
On International Women’s Day, March 8th, Pittsburgh women are set to rally downtown for the Pittsburgh International Women’s Strike (PIWS). Women will walk out of their jobs in solidarity with women workers around the globe.
The march and rally will take place from 4-6 p.m. starting in front of the Pittsburgh City-County Building.
Childcare will also be provided on March 8 from 4-7pm. That location is 1 Smithfield St Bldg, Homestead Grays room (Lower Level). Sign up here.
Today, students all over the city are set to march out of their classrooms at 3:08pm. Students will march to Schenley Plaza in Oakland and convene for a multi-school rally. All students and workers are welcome to attend the citywide rally on March 8.
PIWS, a coalition of more than 10 regional organizations and individuals organized the event this year and last. In 2018, nearly 100 pittsburghers marched through the streets downtown demanding paid sick leave for low-wage workers.
Pittsburghers will walk out of their jobs on strike, demanding not just equal pay, but calling for an end to gender violence, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobic policy brutality, and immigration policies. This demand is not just for white women, but for women of color, women with disability, and women who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum.
PIWS press liaison Darnika Reed was adamant about reaching out to different activists this year for the event. She wanted women activists from all over the city to share their story.
“Participants should be prepared to learn about a new cause, issue and activist. And hopefully they walk away motivated to support all different kinds of women in Pittsburgh” she says, “We want activists to collaborate all over the city after this. It’s great to form a coalition.”
Dena Stanley, founder of TranYOUniting, is a coalition member and guest speaker at this year’s event. Her organization provides support to trans folks in Pittsburgh through bus fare donations, work placement, health-care assistance, and community building. Dena also runs her own catering company where she trains and mentors trans workers. She shows them not only how to run a kitchen, but also a business. Currently, TranYOUniting is raising funds to build a community center and transitional house for trans folks in Pittsburgh.
Stanley hopes the coalition and rally motivates women from all backgrounds, identities, ethnicities and intersections to come together.
“We need all women at the table,” she says, “We need to start the conversation in Pittsburgh so it can shift into the United States. Injustices at the Allegheny County Jail, the workplace, on the street, will not longer be tolerated for any woman.”
Stanley hopes the coalition will send a message to Pittsburgh and beyond.
“Let every man in this country know we will not tolerate abuse and discrimination,” she says. “We will not stop until we get that,” she said.
Alisa Grishman founded Access Mob in 2015 as an “un-protest” organization, where folks with disabilities let inaccessible or unaccommodating establishments know that they “want to spend our money here.”
The idea was born out a wonderful experience she had at the Pittsburgh restaurant Social, located in Bakery Square. Alisa and other friends with disabilities would meet at Social once a month because it was one of the more physically accessible establishments in the city. One day, Social employees surprised two of the meetups members with food menus written in braille.
Since then, Grisham has worked to get different businesses, buildings, public spaces to invite people with disabilities in, instead of just accommodating them.
“We want to be welcomed, not tolerated,” Grisham says.
On Friday, Grisham plans to talk about the employment gap for individuals with disabilities. As much as 70% of the disability community is unemployed.
What is Grisham most excited for on Friday?
“I love visibility for the disability community. I love the visibility of just being a woman talking about a topic who uses a wheelchair,” she said.
Confirmed speakers of the PIWS include: Dena Stanley of TransYOUniting, Jewish Voices for Peace, Gabrielle Monroe of SWOP Behind Bars, Cori Frazier of Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, New Voices Pittsburgh, Emily Culver of Socialist Alternative, Ni Una Menos, Laura Perkins, Casa San Jose, and Alisa Marie of Access Mob.
Phat Man Dee & Liz Berlin as well as the May Day Marching Band are musical acts.
PIWS also welcomes input from community members and grassroots organizations all throughout the Pittsburgh area. The organization can be reached via email and phone number to offer support or ask questions: email@example.com and (412) 436-9160. PIWS is still looking for volunteers to marshall the event.