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Spanish women hold strike for rights

Updated March 09, 2018

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MADRID: Spain marked International Women’s Day on Thursday with an unprecedented strike by women in defence of their rights that saw hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day.

Called by 10 unions to demand gender equality, particularly where salaries are concerned, the strike dominated the headlines with famous female presenters noticeably absent from radio or television shows.

Feminist groups also called on women not to spend money on items such as deodorants whose versions created for women often cost more, and to ditch domestic chores for the day.

The strike was attempting to emulate Iceland’s 1975 work stoppage, when women took a day off in October to demonstrate their vital contribution to the country’s economy and society.

However Spain’s two main unions — the CCOO and UGT — have called on their members to stop work for only two hours on Thursday.

Ana Reyes, a 37-year-old PR executive, said she was striking “in the hope that the importance of half of the population would be recognised and that it would bring about a real change”. She said the action gave “visibility to the malaise and discrimination we women suffer”.

The strike came as countries around the world mobilised for #internationalwomensday2018, a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and came hot on the heels of #MeToo and #Timesup campaigns that went global with allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

Spain is a leading country in the fight for women’s rights and against gender violence. In 2004, for instance, the then Socialist government approved a law on violence against women that the Eur­opean Council has upheld as an example to follow.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018