“Women’s Day protesters rally for rights, with focus on Iran and Afghanista”, Reuters

World, March 8, 2023

  • Summary
  • Afghanistan ‘most repressive’ for women, U.N. says
  • Demonstrators in Istanbul and Manila scuffle with police
  • Latin American women protest femicides, sexual violence
  • Canada and Ireland pledge rule changes

MEXICO CITY/ISTANBUL, March 8 (Reuters) – Rallies marking International Women’s Day took place around the world on Wednesday with a focus on Afghanistan, where girls are denied the right to education, and Iran, which has seen mass protests on women’s rights in recent months.

Activists donned purple and held demonstrations from Jakarta and Singapore to Istanbul, Berlin, Caracas and Montevideo.

In the Americas, reproductive rights were a key theme after the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. abortion ruling was overturned last year and with abortion tightly restricted in much of Latin America. Women have also demanded action on high rates of unsolved killings of women and girls.

In Mexico City, 67-year-old Silvia Vargas said she had been attending demonstrations since her daughter Maria Fernanda, who was lesbian, was killed in 2014.

“Not everyone gets human rights, governments and institutions determine them,” she said, saying authorities had made her feel her daughter’s sexuality and murder were shameful. “I’m going home to an absence that has marked me for life.”

Across South America, from Montevideo on the Atlantic coast to the Andean city of Quito, thousands took to the streets, including indigenous people, students and workers.

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In Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, women demanded the legalization of abortion and action on femicides, while in Chile’s Santiago protesters, dancers, artists and even pets crammed the streets.

By nightfall in Mexico’s second-largest city, Monterrey, protesters clashed with police and some set a local government palace gate on fire.

In Manila, activists calling for equal rights and better wages scuffled with police blocking their protest. “Girls just want to have fun…damental rights”, read one poster. Turkish police fired pepper spray to disperse protesters in Istanbul.

In Paris, demonstrators marched to demand better pensions for women who work part-time and in Tel Aviv women formed human chains to protest against a judicial overhaul that they fear will harm civil liberties.

Protesters flooded the streets of several Spanish cities to demand equal rights and the rooting out of “machismo” but divisions in the feminist movement over issues such as transgender rights and prostitution led to competing rallies.

Many protests included calls for solidarity with women in Iran and Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights, and it has been distressing to witness their methodical, deliberate, and systematic efforts to push Afghan women and girls out of the public sphere,” Roza Otunbayeva, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement marking the day.

In London, protesters marched to the Iranian embassy in costumes inspired by the novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, while in Valencia, Spain, women cut their hair in support of Iranian women.