Women march for better life on International Women's Day

March 10, 2011 - 0:0

PARIS (AFP) – Women took to the streets worldwide Tuesday to mark the 100th International Women's Day, with protests against honor killings, their objectification in Italy and killings in Ivory Coast.

Drawing inspiration from the boardrooms of Finland and the toppling of autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrators staked their claim for equality, education and a better life.
A month before Silvio Berlusconi goes on trial over allegations he paid an underage prostitute for sex, hundreds of Italian women rallied in Rome.
""Here, women have sex with someone powerful to get into parliament. Women are treated like objects. I'm ashamed to have a prime minister like Berlusconi"", said protester Irene D'Onfronio, 62.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will push for women to be included in the transition to democracy in Arab countries.
""In the coming months and years, the women in Egypt and Tunisia and other nations have just as much right as the men to remake their governments to make them responsive, accountable, transparent"", Clinton said at an awards ceremony.
But in Cairo, hundreds of Egyptian women rallying for their rights on Women's Day were confronted by men who shouted at them to return home, according to media reports.
In Turkey, women chanted ""Don't Turn Our Wedding Dresses into Shrouds"", as they marched against so-called honor killings, when a male family member kills a woman deemed to have brought shame on the family.
Hundreds of women demonstrated in Ivory Coast, meanwhile, to condemn the shooting of seven women at a rally last week demanding that strongman Laurent Gbagbo quit the presidency after losing elections.
Mostly dressed in white and wearing red headbands, they marched to ""pay homage to the women killed"", an organizer said. ""We are not going to stop demonstrating until Laurent Gbagbo leaves"".
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to lead the giant South American country, said eradicating poverty is her top goal, and can be achieved through policies designed to help women and children.
Revelers in Rio de Janeiro paid tribute to Women's Day as only they can -- with an irreverent celebration near a Carmelite convent, a tradition during Carnival.
Meanwhile in Guatemala, where a culture of impunity saw nearly 700 women killed last year alone, the head of a commission on ""femicide"" called for a specific statute on the killing of women.
In Peru, at least 123 women were killed in 2010 by their partners or former partners, authorities said.
A group of women in Venezuela participated in an event in Caracas honoring the heroines of the country's independence.
Palestinian women took to the streets of Gaza to call for an end to the Israeli occupation.
In the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, dozens of women blocked a major road for half an hour to protest Israeli roadblocks.
""Part of the women's rights issue is the harm caused by the Israeli occupation"", said activist Fadwa Khader. ""Can you imagine women being woken up and kicked out of their homes in the early morning so their homes can be demolished to make way for settlements?""
The European Union hailed women's ""crucial role in bringing about change in northern Africa"".
""Amidst violence, women have joined the struggle for change"", said European Commission Vice Presidents Catherine Ashton and Viviane Reding in a joint statement. ""Women must be at the heart of the discussions over the future order"".
Whether in T-shirts and jeans or robes and veils, tens of thousands of women have recently made their voices heard on the streets, from Tunis to Cairo, from Manama to Sanaa, to demand reform in a region long ruled by autocracies.
""The situation of women in Afghanistan is improving in spite of a lot of challenges"", said Maria Bashir, an investigative prosecutor in Afghanistan who accepted an award from the U.S. State Department for showing courage in the face of Taliban threats.