International Women’s Day: Rallies worldwide call for gender equality

Events around the world marked International Women’s Day on Thursday — as demonstrators and advocates shined a light on social movements and gender parity.

Pakistani women rally Thursday to mark International Women's Day in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo by Rahat Dar/EPA-EFE
Pakistani women rally Thursday to mark International Women’s Day in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo by Rahat Dar/EPA-EFE

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Press for Progress” — which emphasizes gender equality worldwide, while recognizing it “won’t happen overnight.”
According to a new global study by Ipsos, sexual harassment is seen today as the top issue facing women internationally — with 3 in 10 people putting harassment at the top of the list of concerns.

When it comes to equal pay, Ipsos found that nearly half of those surveyed believe that full equality between men and women will be achieved in their lifetime.

“The good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day,” International Women’s Day organizers said in a statement. “Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.”

Around the world, International Women’s Day was celebrated Thursday with protests and marches in the United States, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Australia, Belarus, Pakistan and Nepal.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements, which were sparked by sexual harassment claims against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, rippled across the globe and led to waves of protests and rallies.

A protest involving Amnesty International was held outside the State Duma in Moscow on Thursday, which focused on harassment allegations against a senior Russian lawmaker.

“Last year, Russian lawmakers passed a law to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence; now they are marking International Women’s Day by showing solidarity with an alleged perpetrator of sexual harassment,” Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said.

In Spain, the mayors of Madrid and Barcelona expressed support for a a women’s walkout — the country’s first “feminist strike” aiming to highlight sexual discrimination, domestic violence and the wage gap.

“Today we call for a society free of sexist oppression, exploitation and violence,” the 8 March Commission, the group in charge of the walkout, said in a statement. “We call for rebellion and a struggle against the alliance of the patriarchy and capitalism that wants us to be obedient, submissive and quiet. We do not accept worse working conditions, nor being paid less than men for the same work. That is why we are calling a work strike.”

In Britain, an International Women’s Day flag flew over Parliament for the first time Thursday, with Labor equalities minister Dawn Butler saying the flag would “remind us of what has been achieved and how far their is to go to achieve full gender equality.”

Rallys were scheduled throughout the United States for Thursday at locations including New York, Atlanta and San Francisco.

Businesses like doll-manufacturer Barbie and restaurant chain McDonald’s also celebrated the occasion.

Barbie announced new dolls representing “incredible women” from around the world — including model Ashley Graham and Pyeongchang Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim.

“As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can’t see,” Barbie Senior Vice President Lisa McKnight said.

In a substantial branding tweak, McDonald’s flipped its iconic golden arches upside down on digital branding Thursday to commemorate Women’s Day — turning the usual ‘M’ into a ‘W.’

“In the U.S., we’re proud to share that 6 out of 10 restaurant managers are women,” the fast-foot chain said in a statement. “They run the McDonald’s business each and every day. So, in honor of women everywhere, we’re flipping our iconic logo for International Women’s Day.”

By Sara Shayanian