Utah Women Take Day Off To Meet With Lawmakers

Mar 9, 2017

Utah lawmakers faced a sea of red at the Capitol on Wednesday for A Day Without a Woman, a direct-action event organized by Utah Women Unite, the group behind the women’s march at the beginning of the legislative session.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, hundreds of women from around the state took a day off from work and headed to the Hill, donning red in solidarity with a nationwide strike. Constituents from Summit County to Southern Utah met with their legislators about issues ranging from climate change to domestic violence.

Dressed as a suffragette, Psarah Johnson of Salt Lake City focused on promoting the ratification of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment, a resolution that was re-introduced at this year’s legislative session by Salt Lake City Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis. The measure didn’t pass out of the Senate Rules Committee.

"I am here in my vintage 1920s outfit because we’re fighting a vintage 1920s bill still," Johnson said. "We’re trying to get women added to the constitution, because we’re not in there. Abigail Adams, John Adams’ wife, one of our Founding Mothers, was the first one to say, ‘remember the ladies.’ We were not included in the Constitution when it was originally written, and sadly, we’re still not included."

Levy Woodruff caught her legislator, Sandy Republican Rep. Steve Eliason, on his way to a vote. Woodruff was encouraged by Eliason’s response to her questions about women in poverty.

"I was heartened that he said at least the concept of equal pay for equal work applying to people in the same position, roughly the same tenure and doing the same work, that he would be supportive of that," Woodruff said. "I would be interested to see getting that moved forward and see what he actually does, but I appreciated that he did not dismiss the concept out of hand or claim that the gap was exaggerated or anything like that."

The meeting wasn’t only for women. Chris Hamatake took the day off from his tech job in Draper to care for his four children and support his wife, Rebecca, while she voiced her concerns to their legislators. He hoped movements like this would lead to a better future for his kids.

"I have a daughter, and she doesn’t understand why a boy can get paid more money to do the same job as a girl," Hamatake said. "And I would love for her to not have to deal with that when she’s an adult. You know, we can still have movements, but for other things, not for basic equalities."

Actions took place around the country in support of the strike. Women who couldn’t take the day off were encouraged to participate by not spending money, unless it was at woman-owned local businesses.