Global feminists fight for equality

Women took to the streets around the world on International Women’s Day to demand equality and protest against domestic violence and growing poverty.

Thousands gathered in public squares from Bangalore to Kinshasa to the capitals of Europe on Sunday.

Adressing a rally in Emden, north-west Germany, top IG Metall union official Helga Schwitzer pointed out that, “in times of crisis, jobs become scarce and women are often the ones who are the first to go.

“Women must not be the losers in the crisis,” she told the gathering, stressing that women still earn on average 23 per cent less than men.

In Bangalore, women activists met in parks and open areas to protest at a spate of violent attacks on women by religious extremists in the name of “moral policing.”

And in Africa, women called attention to the plight of their gender in war zones.

Some 10,000 women marched on the streets of Kinshasa to protest against the massive and savage violence meted out to women and children as a weapon of war.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, family minister Marie-Ange Lukiana Mufwankolo said: “The desires of Congolese women are clear – stop rape, stop Aids and stop other human rights violations against women and children.”

An independent UN expert warned at the weekend that Muslim women around the world are facing a “growing crisis” as Islamist-oriented governments fail to honour commitments to end inequality and violence against them.

United Nations rapporteur on violence against women Yakin Erturk told a conference in Malaysia that women must press their governments to deliver pledges on equal rights and to ensure their safety.

Women in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province established a business association on Sunday to boost economic development.

Women Affairs Department official Nadira Joya explained that it aimed to “enhance women’s role in economic activities in order to boost their income.”

In Bogota, the Colombian office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for violent sex crimes against women to be investigated and punished, saying that often “the guilty parties are members of several armed groups.”

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said this week that one woman in five around the globe has been a victim of rape or attempted rape and that, in some countries, one woman in three has been beaten or subjected to some kind of violent act.

In Cuba, President Raul Castro called it a “disgrace” that Cuban women’s representation in political life was not as significant at the “decision-making” level as it should be.

And, in Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he will upgrade the Women’s Affairs Ministry to play a stronger role in the country’s socialist revolution.

Mr Chavez announced that the new entity will be called the Ministry of People’s Power for Women and Gender Equality.


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