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International Women’s Day: Thousands demand equality at events around the world

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Climate change, coronavirus and femicide have been prominent topics at global events for this year’s International Women’s Day..

Marine Gen Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he wanted to “ensure freedom of navigation” in the region, which provides essential trade routes.

Dozens of people have been arrested after masked men attacked women’s rights activists at a rally for International Women’s Day.

Witnesses said the men grabbed and tore banners being carried by the protesters at an unauthorised rally in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on Sunday afternoon.

They left shortly before local police arrived, who then arrested around 60 – mostly female – activists.

Citing lawyer Bakytbek Aftandil, the Akipress news agency said the detainees were later released.

Ten of those arrested were said to have been charged with resisting police, which can carry a fine of 3,000 soms (£33).

Meanwhile, thousands of women in other parts of the world were not phased by recent fears of coronavirus as they marched for gender equality to mark International Women’s Day.

The impacts of climate change were also heavily tied into the message at this year’s events, with demonstrators at the London rally on Sunday carrying signs that read: “No climate justice without gender justice”.

Speaking ahead of the rally, TV presenter and women’s rights activist Sandi Toksvig said she also believed climate change was “a gendered thing” that could ultimately leave women worse off.

She said: “Women are the ones who are going to suffer the most, the ones who are going to do the subsistence farming, they are the ones who – when things get bad – are the victims of domestic violence.

“We absolutely need to look at the bigger picture on this and this is where the urgency comes from.”

“We need men who are running the corporations to make massive changes and they need to make them today.”

Meanwhile, dozens of women with the Extinction Rebellion climate group stood topless on Waterloo Bridge with messages such as “climate rape”, “climate murder” and “climate inequality” written on their bodies.

The group said it wanted to highlight women in poorer countries suffering violence that it said would become “the reality for all women if the climate and ecological crisis continues to go unaddressed.”

It added: “We are here to raise the alarm about what is happening to our sisters around the world and to tell women in the UK the climate and ecological emergency is your issue – it will affect you as a women if we do not persuade our government to take urgent action now.”

As in the UK, the recent threat of coronavirus in other areas of the world didn’t appear to stop people from celebrating women’s day.

In virus hotspots, such as Italy and South Korea, the occasion was marked with videos posted online from country officials.

In Italy – which has the biggest outbreak in Europe and has placed a quarter of its population on lockdown – President Sergio Mattarella dedicated his video message to the women working to contain the illness.

He said: “I address a grateful thought to the women – and there are many – who are working in hospitals, laboratories, red areas to counter the spread of the virus that worries us these days.

“They work in difficult conditions, with competence and with a spirit of sacrifice, with dedication.

“With exemplary ability to withstand very large workloads. To them, in particular, I wish to dedicate this important day.”

In Baghdad, Iraq, women were seen marching in protective face masks against the virus.

Other countries in Asia also marked the day with gatherings going ahead in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Protesters at the rally in the Philippines were seen burning effigies of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has regularly been accused of sexism and misogyny.

Huge gatherings were also expected in Chile in what could rekindle anger from last year’s nationwide movement against inequality and the cost of living that led to violent unrest between protesters and police.

Europe also saw its fair share of rallies on Sunday despite fears relating to the spread of COVID-19, with events in France, Germany, Spain and Russia.

A number of demonstrators in France focused on the issue of femicide, which comes after the country recorded 130 cases of women being killed by their partners in 2019.

Mexico has also organised a demonstration to demand justice for women who are victim to violence and femicide.

In London, hundreds of people took part in the main rally in Whitehall, which also saw a number of famous faces in attendance.

Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, said she felt the movement was “louder and noisier” than it had been “in a long time”, which led to hope for big change.

Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer was also at the rally, where she said the gender pay gap was “absolutely ludicrous”.

Actor George McKay, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated war film 1917, said he believed the film industry was finally changing to embrace a more diverse industry.

He said: “I’ve witnessed the change – it is still a very male-dominated industry but I’ve witnessed the change where there are more stories led by women.”

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