Women’s Day marches seek equality and focus on Iran and Afghanistan

  • Melbourne activists demand ‘safe, respectful and equal’
  • Protesters in Manila clash with police
  • The United Nations says Afghanistan is the “most repressive” country for women

MANILA/MADRID (Reuters) – International Women’s Day rallies were held around the world on Wednesday after a year in which girls in Afghanistan were banned from education, mass protests for women’s rights erupted in Iran and the overturning of a landmark US ruling on abortion. .

Demonstrations were held in Paris, Berlin, Beirut, Jakarta, Singapore and elsewhere. Gatherings are planned in other cities.

In Manila, activists demanding equal rights and pay clashed with police blocking their protest.

“Girls just want to have fun… perverse rights,” one poster read.

In Melbourne, protesters demanded equal pay and improved safety for women. “Safe, respectful and equal,” said one of the signs at the rally. An Iranian troupe also attended.

The protests included calls for solidarity with women in Iran and Afghanistan, where their freedoms have taken particularly harsh blows in the past year.

Rosa Otunbayeva, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement marking the day.

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The death of 23-year-old Mohsa Amini in the custody of the morality police in Tehran, in September, unleashed the biggest anti-government protests in Iran in years.

In recent days, Iran’s clerical rulers have faced renewed pressure as public anger festers over a spate of poisoning attacks on schoolgirls in dozens of schools.

Abortion and reproductive rights were on the agenda at international gatherings on Wednesday, nine months after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Demonstrators in several Spanish cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, ​​were scheduled to hold rival marches on International Women’s Day, reflecting divisions within the feminist movement over transgender rights and a ban on prostitution.

Cost of living crisis

There were scuffles in Colombo when riot police tried to stop protesters at a Women’s Day rally organized by the opposition.

Hundreds of people gathered to demand that the Sri Lankan government protect women’s rights and to protest against the high cost of living. Sri Lanka is experiencing a major economic crisis which has caused inflation to soar.

A woman carried a sign that read, “Stop the exploitation of women’s work.”

On Wednesday, some governments celebrated legislative amendments or pledges.

Canada repealed historic obscenity and anti-abortion laws, Japan said more needed to be done to change attitudes about gender, and Ireland announced a referendum in November to remove archaic references to women in the constitution.

Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first female prime minister, has focused on the role of women in the economy saying that state-controlled companies should have at least one female leader.

In Japan, which ranked 116th out of 146 countries in gender equality in a World Economic Forum report last year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said progress had been made in improving women’s working conditions but more needed to be done.

“The situation of women, who are trying to balance home and work responsibilities, is very difficult in our country and has been pointed out as an issue,” he said. “Procedures to address this is still only halfway through.”

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In Russia, where International Women’s Day is one of the most celebrated public holidays, the speaker of the upper house of parliament has used the occasion to launch a blistering attack on sexual minorities and the liberal values ​​promoted by the West.

“Men and women are the biological, social and cultural backbone of societies,” Valentina Matvienko wrote in a blog on the Federation Council website.

“Therefore, there are no dangerous gender games in our country and never will be. Let’s leave it to the West to conduct this dangerous experiment on itself.”

Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Raisa Kasulowski; Edited by Edmund Blair

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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