9 Mar 2017

US congresswomen walk out on Women's Day

7:45 am on 9 March 2017

US congresswomen have walked out of work, joining women around the world who are going on strike as part of International Women's Day (marked in New Zealand yesterday).

The move by House Democrats is part of a "Day Without a Woman" strike, designed to highlight how crucial women are to the US national workforce.

"I think it's important women in Congress show our solidarity," said Congresswoman Lois Frankel.

Women gather outside the White House on International Women's Day

Protesters outside the White House on International Women's Day. Photo: AFP

Schools in some districts were forced to close after staff walked out.

International Women's Day has grown from a labour movement with its roots in a 1908 protest to a UN-recognised annual event.

Protests of various kind took place around the world. In Ireland, women across the country went on strike and wore black to protest against the country's restrictive abortion laws.

Solidarity protests were held in London, Amsterdam and elsewhere to call for Irish laws to be changed.

Women in Poland staged rallies and marches to demand protection against violence, equal rights and respect.

Thousands gathered in Krakow, Poland for the International Women Strike March.

Thousands gathered in Krakow, Poland for the International Women Strike March. Photo: AFP

In Germany, airline Lufthansa said six all-female crews would be flying in support of the day. Just percent of pilots in the airline's parent company Lufthansa are women.

Sweden's women's football team replaced the names on the back of their jersey's with tweets from Swedish women "who have struggled to gain ground in their respective field".

In the US, thousands of women were expected to not work or spend money, to demonstrate their economic strength and impact on society.

"We provide all this value and keep the system going and receive unequal benefits from it," said Cassady Findlay, a spokeswoman for the organisers behind the idea.

US women are paid just four-fifths of their male counterparts' wages.

The "Day Without a Woman" is being organised by the group behind the Women's March in January, when millions across the US gathered to protest the day after Donald Trump's inauguration.

International Women's Day rallies are planned in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Washington and Berkeley, California, with some employers giving women time off to attend.

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday to say he had "tremendous respect for women", but the president has been accused of sexism and forced to deny a series of claims of sexual assault.

Elsewhere, Iceland's government said that it would begin to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, becoming the first country to do so.

And in Finland, the country announced a a $160,000 International Gender Equality Prize to be given to "a dedicated defender and builder of equality".

Hundreds of women in the tiny state of Montenegro protested against cuts in state aid for mothers of three or more children, and in Romania dozens of women lay on the ground and read out the names of women killed by their partners to highlight domestic violence.

- BBC

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