March 8th formerly celebrated International Women’s Day, highlighting women’s achievements and feminist issues across the globe.
The annual celebration took place in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the UN’s “Time’s Up” campaign putting a spotlight on widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood as well as the more recent scandal concerning rampant sexual abuse and harassment across the charity sector. In a “The Time is Now” spirit, activists took to writing open letters to the leaders of international charities to marching the streets.
In the UK, an International Women’s Day flag flew over parliament to highlight the 100-years-mark since British women gained the vote.
Spain held a 24 hours “feminist strike”, bringing the country to a standstill, affecting public transport as roughly 5.3 million people protested the female pay gap, sexual discrimination, harassment, abuse and other forms of sexism.
In France employees were called to stop working at 3.40pm in solidarity with their female colleagues. Research revealed that women in France earn 24% less for the same work as their male counterparts, resulting in women working for free after 3.40 pm every day.
Meanwhile in Australia activists demanded paid domestic violence leave, an end to alcohol-fuelled violence as well as more initiatives countering unconscious bias against women.
South Koreans wore black on the day and held black #MeToo signs in response to workplace mistreatment and sexual misconduct. Protesters also gathered outside the Japanese embassy to recognise the plight of “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War Two.
Philippines activists dressed in pink and purple to protest their misogynistic President, Rodrgo Duerte, handing out red and white roses to the mothers, sisters and widows of drug suspects killed in Duerte’s “War on Drugs.”
First celebrated at National Women’s Day in the United States in 1909, the United Nations formulated the international event, after several smaller events in previous years, on March 8th in 1975.
By Naina Bhardwaj