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World of women

Natalie Shanklin writes: From Santiago to Istanbul to Manila, thousands of women’s rights activists celebrated International Women’s Day by protesting against the oppression of women.

Around 1,800 women were murdered because of their gender between 2008 and 2014 in Argentina alone, according to La Casa del Encuentro, a women's rights groups in Buenos Aires. The women’s movement gained serious momentum with a 300,000-strong march on congress last June, and demonstrated against femicide again on IWD this year.

Hundreds of demonstrators in Bogota, Colombia, held a ‘March of Whores’ in protest against gender-based discrimination and violence. In Chile, more than 10,000 marched on downtown Santiago, demanding among other things the decriminalisation of abortion. Police used tear gas and water cannon.

When hundreds of women ignored a ban on their IWD demonstration in Istanbul, Turkish police fired rubber bullets and detained at least one woman.

In Warsaw, Poland, women marched against religious oppression, carrying signs such as: ‘My priest ordered me to give birth’, and ‘Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.’ Protesters demanded better access to abortion, improved work conditions and more support in raising children.

In Egypt, female relatives demanded the release of women prisoners by demonstrating in front of the press syndicate in Cairo, chanting against the military and the interior ministry.

In Pakistan, female labourers rallied for improved rights. Women working in brick-making kilns often do not possess a national ID card, in which case employers pay male relatives who do have the card, meaning the women might not receive any wages.

Women in Pakistan’s conservative Jamaat-e-Islami party also demonstrated in Lahore to fight for their rights, opposing honour-killing and acid attacks against women.

IWD rallies took place throughout India in cities such as Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Bhopal. In New Delhi, activists demanded that parliament pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, which holds legislative seats for women.

In Manila, in the Philippines, presidential candidate Grace Poe spoke at an IWD demo just hours after the supreme court voted to allow her to run in the national elections.

On 6 March, in China, Li Tingting, one of five feminists arrested on IWD last year for organizing a protest against sexual harassment, spoke out in a YouTube video to express her gratitude to the Chinese government. ‘What happened to us had an enormous impact in China and overseas,’ Li said. ‘It was actually the first time that the international community knew that there are real feminists in China.’