The Philadelphia teachers' union used the international women's strike on Wednesday to highlight the important roles that women play in schools and to call for a better contract.
More than 930 teachers in the School District of Philadelphia did not show up for work that day. It's unclear how many of those absences were related to the protest, which was called "A Day Without a Woman." District officials said teacher absences were higher than normal, but not unprecedented.
"A Day Without a Woman" was intended to highlight gender inequality and women's importance in society. Philadelphia educators seized on the opportunity to make their own political statement about fair pay.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers encouraged teachers across the District to hold "informational pickets" before the school day began to underscore the lack of a valid contract for union members. Teachers and other school staff represented by the PFT haven't had a contract since 2013. They've gone without raises since 2012.
Roughly 75 percent of PFT members are female, union officials said. Teachers picketing outside of H.A. Brown School in Kensington said their plight related to broader inequities that women face in the workplace.
"Teaching is such a women-heavy career, so it kind of goes together," said Niki Vazquez, an autistic support teacher at H.A. Brown. "Not having women, you wouldn't really be able to have schools, either."