Protests held worldwide on International Women's Day 2019
By Sim Sim Wissgott
00:50

International Women's Day on Friday prompted rallies and demonstrations around the world, with women demanding equal pay and equal rights at home and in the workplace, as well as protesting domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Here is an overview.

Read more: What is the origin of International Women's Day and why is it still relevant today? 

Spain - Mass rallies

Some of the biggest marches were in Spain where an estimated 375,000 people – many wearing purple, the color of women's rights – took to the streets of Madrid, while another 200,000 rallied in Barcelona. Smaller rallies were also held in other Spanish cities while trade unions called for a general strike to demand equal pay and rights for women.

Turkish anti-riot police officers block the street as demonstrators gather on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul, March 8, 2019 for International Women's Day. /VCG Photo

Turkish anti-riot police officers block the street as demonstrators gather on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul, March 8, 2019 for International Women's Day. /VCG Photo

The debate over women's rights has reignited in Spain ahead of April elections, with a new far-right party, Vox, threatening to scrap legislation on domestic violence. Spain was already shaken last year when a court found five men accused of sexual assault at the famed Pamplona bull-running festival guilty of just a minor charge.

Turkey - Clashes

Events were less peaceful in Istanbul where police fired teargas at protesters who had come out to demonstrate for equal rights despite a protest ban. Media reports said officers also used rubber bullets and dogs to scare protesters. 

The evening march took place under a heavy police presence, with thousands of demonstrators holding banners and chanting "We are not silent, we are not scared." In deeply conservative Turkey, the government was doing too little to protect women against from gender-based violence, demonstrators complained. Smaller rallies in Ankara also drew a few hundred people.

A leaflet that reads 'March 8, Women's strike' is seen in Paris, France, march 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

A leaflet that reads 'March 8, Women's strike' is seen in Paris, France, march 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Italy - Not one less

In Rome and Milan, tens of thousands marched for gender equality and to condemn violence against women under the banner "Non Una di Meno" (Not one less). Thousands more gathered in other cities around the country, as public transportation in some parts came to a standstill.

Organizers had called for a widespread "feminist strike", urging women to not just stop work at the office but in all other areas of life, whether at school or at home.

Protesters' chants against domestic violence, abuse and harassment took on added significance after two women were killed by their partners on Thursday.

Brazil - Political message

From Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paolo and the capital Brasilia, several Brazilian cities held rallies for International Women's Day, with thousands joining in to condemn gender-based violence in a country that has been plagued with a high rate of murdered women.  

Demonstrators hold signs while marching during a rally for International Women's Day in Rome, Italy, Friday, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Demonstrators hold signs while marching during a rally for International Women's Day in Rome, Italy, Friday, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

The protests also took aim at the new far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been slammed in the past for sexist comments.

Around the world

Portugal already began things on a somber note on Thursday, calling a day of mourning due to a record number of domestic violence deaths in the first two months of the year.

Around the world on Friday, hundreds of other demonstrations took place. Agendas varied: in Buenos Aires, protesters called for decrimininalizing abortion; in Pakistan they railed against patriarchal attitudes and demanded economic justice; in Guatemala City, indigenous women called for equal rights and access to family planning; and in Manila, demonstrators chanted slogans attacking President Rodrigo Duterte for his misogynistic comments and crude rape jokes.

Women march during International Women's Day in Mexico City, Mexico, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Women march during International Women's Day in Mexico City, Mexico, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Thousands also gathered and marched from Oslo to Melbourne, Kiev, Paris, Zagreb, Bogota and Mexico City.

According to the UN, 35 percent of women – or one in three – have been victims of physical or sexual violence. Globally, women continue to earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a male colleague doing the same work.

(Cover picture: Pakistani civil society activists carry placards and shout slogans during a rally for women rights on International Women's Day in Lahore, Pakistan, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo)