Women’s Day rallies seek equality, focus on Iran, Afghanistan

  • ‘Safe, respectful, equal,’ Melbourne activists demand
  • Protesters clash with police in Manila
  • UN names Afghanistan ‘extremely oppressive’ for women

MANILA/MADRID, March 8 (Reuters) – A year after girls’ education was banned in Afghanistan, women’s rights protests erupted in Iran and a landmark U.S. abortion ruling was overturned, rallies were held around the world on Wednesday to mark International Women’s Day. .

Demonstrations were held in Paris, Berlin, Beirut, Jakarta and Singapore, and more rallies were planned in other cities.

In Manila, police broke up activists calling for equal rights and better wages.

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

Demonstrators in Melbourne demanded equal pay and better protection for women. “Safe, Respectful, Equal,” said one banner at the march. The Iranian army had also arrived.

Many of the protests included calls for solidarity with women who have faced particularly severe blows to women’s freedom in Iran and Afghanistan over the past year.

“Afghanistan under the Taliban is one of the most repressive countries in the world regarding women’s rights, and it is heartbreaking to witness their systematic, deliberate and systematic efforts to exclude Afghan women and girls from the public sphere,” said Rosa Otunbayeva. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement marking the day.

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In London, protesters marched to the Iranian embassy in costumes inspired by the novel and TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale” in support of women in Iran.

The death last September of 23-year-old Mahza Amini while in the custody of morality police in Tehran unleashed the largest anti-government protests in Iran in years.

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In recent days, Iran’s clerical rulers have faced renewed pressure as public anger grew over a wave of poison attacks affecting schoolgirls at dozens of schools.

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two senior Iranian prison officials responsible for serious human rights abuses against women and girls.

Britain announced sanctions against what it described as “violators of global women’s rights”. The European Union announced new sanctions on Tuesday.

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

Protesters in several Spanish cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, ​​are set to hold rival rallies for International Women’s Day, reflecting divisions in the feminist movement over trans rights and banning prostitution.

Cost of living crisis

A women’s day rally organized by the opposition in Colombo erupted into clashes after riot police tried to stop protesters.

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

A woman held a banner saying “Stop Exploitation of Women’s Labour”.

Some governments marked Wednesday with legislative changes or pledges.

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

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

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In Japan, which ranked 116th out of 146 countries on gender equality in last year’s World Economic Forum Global Report, 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 trying to balance home and workplace responsibilities is very difficult in our country and has been cited as an issue,” she said. “Measures to tackle this are only half-way through.”

International Women’s Day is one of Russia’s most celebrated public holidays, and the head of its upper house of parliament used the occasion to launch a scathing attack on sexual minorities and 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 website of the Federation Council.

“Therefore, there are no dangerous sex games in our country and never will be. Let us leave this dangerous experiment to the West.”

Report by Reuters Bureau; By Raju Gopalakrishnan and Raissa Kasolowski; Editing by Edmund Blair and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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