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How the world marked women’s day?


AFP |

Protests, strikes and studies — people around the globe are taking action to mark International Women’s Day and to push for action to obtain equality.

Here are some of the events:

Strikes and Tear Gas

In Turkey authorities sought to quash Women’s Day demonstrations on Friday, with police firing tear gas to disperse a sea of demonstrators at the entrance of the city’s main pedestrianised shopping street Istiklal Avenue.

Protesters had gathered at the central avenue despite a ban on their protest, with crowds chanting slogans including: “We are not silent, we are not scared, we are not obeying.” They were blocked by police in riot gear, who then used tear gas and dogs to disperse them.

Across Spain, women downed tools in a strike for equality, a mass movement which drew in female employees from across the spectrum, from nuns to journalists and even the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena. Authorities said more than half a million people took part in Women’s Day protests in Madrid and Barcelona.

In France, thousands of people took to the streets to mark the day, with demonstrators in Paris carrying banners with slogans including “Equal pay, equal work” and “we will never be silent again”.

Read more: Strike, protests mark International Women’s Day in Spain

Thousands Protest Duterte Misogyny

About 4,000 demonstrators marched through Manila chanting slogans against President Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly made jokes about rape and last year admitted indecently touching the family maid when he was a teenager.

Aides brushed off his comments as jokes, but activists have denounced his “misogynistic” statements as “unacceptable, pointing to statistics showing a 153 percent increase in rape from the decade before he was elected.

With one woman or child raped in the Philippines every hour, activists aiming to raise awareness about gender-based violence staged an exhibition of clothes worn by victims, called ‘Don’t tell me how to Dress’.

Mourning Murdered women

In Mexico, demonstrators held marches and staged a series of performances with graphic depictions of domestic abuse in Ecatepec, a town one hour outside Mexico City known as a flashpoint for violence against women.

Mexico State, where Ecatepec is located, led the country in femicides in 2017, with 301 women and girls murdered, according to official figures.

“It makes me sad to wake up every day and see in the news that another (woman) has disappeared, another body has been found. It makes me sad to realize I’m very vulnerable as a woman and that I never know if I’m going to make it home,” Fernanda Pando, 23, a recent graduate in psychology who has lived her whole life in the town, told AFP.

Read more: Why women chess players don’t reach the top?

Flowers for Mums and Wives

In Pyongyang, Flower Shop No. 5 did a brisk trade in flowers on International Women’s Day, which is a public holiday in North Korea, as a steady stream of customers turned up to buy blooms for their wives, mothers and significant others.

As the North’s founder Kim Il Sung once said: “In our country, women are in charge of one of the wheels of the revolution.”

Do more at Home, UN tells Men

Of all the factors blocking equality in employment, the biggest is the heavy burden of caregiving borne by women, a UN report has found, saying the pace of change will only change if men take on far more unpaid tasks at home.

“In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen, and men’s has increased by just eight minutes a day,” said Manuela Tomei of the UN’s International Labour Organization.

Globally, women perform more than three-quarters of the total time spent on unpaid care work, averaging four hours and 25 minutes per day, while men only do one hour and 23 minutes. “The imbalanced division of work within the household between men and women is one of the most resilient features of gender inequality,” the report said.

Read more: How Arab Women Are Reshaping Israel’s Film Industry

Designed with a Gender Bias?

Women’s lives are impacted every day by a built-in “gender data gap” that touches everything from urban life to design, says a new book called “Invisible Women”.

British author Caroline Criado Perez says it is the story of “what happens when we forget to account for half of humanity”, citing examples which range from slight irritations to life-threatening situations.

From cars designed using crash-test dummies based on the average male, to doctors misdiagnosing women suffering a heart attack because their symptoms differ from those of men, the bias pervades modern society, and can have fatal consequences, she says.

Even consumer products are often male-centric with voice recognition software far more likely to accurately recognise men’s speech, and mobile phones often too large for women’s hands. “Designers may believe they are making products for everyone, but in reality they are mainly making them for men.”

In the Director’s Chair, but Paid Less

The number of films directed by women has risen steadily in France over the past decade, but there remains significant inequality, notably in salaries, a study by the French film council says. Back in 2008, just 43 films were made by women, but in 2017, that figure rose to 70.

Women directors were also more active in France than in other European countries, making 370 films between 2012-2017, compared with 242 in Germany and 87 in the UK. But wages were notably lower, with women directors earning on average 42.3 percent less than their male counterparts.

Read more: Indigenous people protest for their rights in Washington

Oz takes aim at Sexist Campervans

Australia’s government used International Women’s Day to take aim at Wicked Campers, a “misogynistic” campervan firm known for its fleet of vehicles spray-painted with crude, sexist graffiti and slogans, which have sparked outrage.

“We have no tolerance for sexist, misogynistic and offensive slogans on campervans,” said Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer, while Transport Minister Michael McCormack said they “belong in a junkyard, not on Australian roads.”

Peace is Born of Women

Pope Francis praised women as the source of peace, hailing their contribution to building a world “that can be a home for all”. “Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive. They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion, and the courage to give of oneself,” he said.

“Peace, then, is born of women, it arises and is rekindled by the tenderness of mothers. Thus the dream of peace becomes a reality when we look towards women…  If we dream of a future peace, we need to give space to women.”

Cameroon Activist wins French Prize

France awarded the first Simone Veil Prize to Aissa Doumara Ngatansou, a Cameroonian woman who has spent 20 years helping victims of rape and forced marriages.

On receiving the 100,000-euro prize ($112,000) Doumara dedicated it to “all women victims of violence and forced marriages” and to those who had escaped the clutches of Boko Haram, the jihadist movement which emerged in Nigeria a decade ago and has terrorised the region.

Abuse Affects one in Three 

Figures released in an OECD report showed that one in three women have suffered from domestic abuse. But since its last report in 2014, another 15 countries have adopted laws against domestic violence, meaning 132 countries criminalise it while 48 do not, it said.

In a second report, the OECD found that addressing gender inequalities and encouraging women’s participation in the workforce could boost the global economy by $6 trillion, or 7.5 percent of GDP.

© Agence France-Presse

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