MADRID — From demands for constitutional rights in Islamabad to calls for economic parity in Manila, Paris and Madrid, International Women’s Day demonstrations in cities around the world Wednesday highlighted the unfinished work of providing equity for half of the planet’s population.
While activists in some places celebrated political and legal advances, observances also pointed to repression in countries such as Afghanistan and Iran, and the large numbers of women and girls who experience sexual assaults and domestic violence globally.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted this week that women’s rights were “abused, threatened and violated” around the world and gender equality won’t be achieved for 300 years given the current pace of change.
Progress won over decades is vanishing because “the patriarchy is fighting back,” Guterres said.
Even in countries where women have considerable freedom, there have been recent setbacks. This was the first International Women’s Day since the US Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion last year and many states adopted restrictions on abortion.
The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1977, but the occasion has its roots in labor movements of the early 20th century. The day is commemorated in different ways and to varying degrees in different countries.
The United Nations identified Afghanistan as the most repressive country in the world for women and girls since the Taliban takeover in 2021. The UN mission said Afghanistan’s new rulers were “imposing rules that leave most women and girls effectively trapped in their homes.”
They have banned girls’ education beyond sixth grade and barred women from public spaces such as parks and gyms. Women must cover themselves from head to toe and are also barred from working at national and international nongovernmental organizations.
Afghan women’s rights campaigner Zubaida Akbar told the UN Security Council that women and girls in the country are facing “the worst crisis for women’s rights in the world.”
“The Taliban have sought not only to erase women from public life, but to extinguish our basic humanity,” said Zubaida, “There is one term that appropriately describes the situation of Afghan woman today: Gender Apartheid.”
Women gathered in Pakistan’s major cities to march amid tight security. Organizers said the demonstrations were aimed at seeking rights guaranteed by the constitution. Some conservative groups last year threatened to stop similar marches by force.
Women’s rights activists in Japan held a small rally to renew their demand for the government to allow married couples to keep using different surnames. Under the 1898 civil code, a couple must adopt “the surname of the husband or wife” at the time of marriage. Surveys show majority support for both men and women keeping their own names.
In the Philippines, hundreds of protesters from various women’s groups rallied in Manila for higher wages and decent jobs.
Recently...all I have seen from Women’s rights activist Groups...is Cowardice, and what seems to be Weasels with an Agenda. On "so" many levels.
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