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Women's Day marches worldwide bolstered by groundswell of #MeToo

Laura King, Kate Linthicum and Sabra Ayres, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

MOSCOW -- Galvanized by hopes that the #MeToo movement might at last herald a social sea change, women across the globe rallied, chanted and in some cases walked off the job Thursday to mark International Women's Day.

From Moscow to Mexico City to Manila, women and their supporters pressed for a range of demands, including equal pay for equal work, a halt to workplace sexual harassment, a greater voice in public policy, more educational and professional opportunities and an end to violence against women.

But amid expressions of solidarity and determination, many of those bearing the heaviest burdens of inequality were too busy simply trying to get through another day to think about attending a march. And in some cases, the authorities stepped in -- as happened in Iran, where an attempt to mark the day with a rally ended with several arrests.

Like the workers' holiday May Day, International Women's Day has never garnered quite the attention in the United States that it does overseas. But over the last several months, the U.S., with Hollywood somewhat improbably leading the way, has been a wellspring for a wide-ranging social reckoning on sexual harassment that has been spreading to other countries.

The White House released a statement hailing the administration's efforts to empower women, even as it batted away questions over the claims of an adult-film actress who said she was paid hush money just before the election of President Donald Trump in an attempt to silence her about an affair with him more than a decade ago.

"As we mark International Women's Day, we remain committed to the worthwhile mission of enhancing women's leadership in the world and building a stronger America for all," the statement said.

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Women's Day is a national holiday in Russia, but President Vladimir Putin's official congratulations seemed to praise the existing order of things, rather than vowing to support changes that would empower women.

Praising women for creating "a welcoming atmosphere" at work while also taking on "daily cares about the house and children," the Russian leader declared "our enchantment with your beauty and tenderness."

With most of the country off from work, Moscow's central streets were free of traffic while its sidewalks were full of shoppers and couples strolling. Women braved the cold temperatures with bouquets of flowers in their hands.

Several of Moscow's Metro stations offered manicures and makeovers to female passengers. Ironically, women are forbidden from driving metro trains -- it's one of the job titles considered "too dangerous." Last year, a woman took the state to court to earn her right to become a captain on a Volga River cargo ship.


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