Protests and celebrations mark International Women’s Day

·2-min read

People around the world have marked International Women’s Day with calls to end exploitation and increase equality.

Tensions marred some celebrations on Sunday, with police arresting demonstrators at a rally in Kyrgyzstan and separatists detonating a bomb during a ceremony in Cameroon.

No-one was hurt in the attack.

“In many different ways or forms, women are being exploited and taken advantage of,” Arlene Brosas, the representative of a Filipino advocacy group said during a rally that drew hundreds to the area near the presidential palace.

Protesters called for higher pay and job security, and demanded Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte respect women’s rights.

Pakistan Women Day
Sirja ul Haq, leader of the Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami, addresses an International Women’s Day rally in Islamabad (B.K. Bangash/AP)

In Pakistan, women rallied in cities across the country despite petitions filed in court seeking to stop them.

The opposition was stirred in part by controversy over a slogan used in last year’s march: “My body, my choice.”

Some conservative groups had threatened to stop this year’s marches by force but Pakistani officials pledged to protect the marchers.

The rallies are notable in a conservative country where women often do not feel safe in public places because of open harassment.

The main Islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, organised its own rallies to counter the march.

One of the largest demonstrations occurred in Chile, where tens of thousands flooded the streets of the capital with dancing, music and angry demands for gender equality and an end to violence against women.

“They kill us, they rape us and nobody does anything,” some chanted.

Many demanded a proposed new constitution strengthen rights for women and thousands wore green scarves in a show of support for activists in neighbouring Argentina, which is considering a proposal to legalise elective abortion.

Thousands of women also marched in Madrid and other Spanish cities, despite concern over the spread of the new coronavirus.

Spain Women’s Day
A woman shouts slogans during a rally to mark the International Women’s Day in Madrid (Manu Fernandez/AP)

A massive banner reading “with rights, without barriers – feminists without frontiers” in Spanish was carried at the front of the march in the capital.

Spanish health authorities did not put any restrictions on the march but recommended anyone with symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus stay home.

But safety was in short supply at some events to mark the day.

The detonation of explosives triggered panic at a ceremony in Bamenda, an English-speaking town in the north-west of Cameroon.

Suspicions focused on separatists who had vowed to disrupt the events.

No-one was killed or wounded.

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