MADRID – From Moscow to Bucharest, Kiev to Tirana, thousands of women protested across major Eastern European cities calling for equal rights and an end to gender violence as International Women’s Day swept across the globe.
The gender pay gap in European nations is more pronounced in eastern countries, according to a 2017 World Economic Forum’s 2017 report, with countries like Russia, Ukraine trailing behind the continent average, while issues like rape, sexual assault and gender also remain a hyper-controversial issue; Russia, for example, recently passed a law decriminalizing some forms of domestic abuse.
“Putin is not a woman’s friend,” read one of the placards held up by feminist activists in a St. Petersburg square on Thursday, epa reported.
“Women Rule,” was another choice takeaway slogan, this time painted onto a Russian activist’s face.
This year’s campaign slogan for the International Women’s Day was “Press for Progress” and it came off the back of a year peppered with feminist movements such as #MeToo, following an array of sexual assault scandals that rocked Hollywood and spread to other global industries.
In the Ukrainian capital Kiev, women took to the snowy streets to voice similar calls for gender parity, while in Bucharest, the capital of the southeastern European nation of Romania, activists stood outside the interior ministry headquarters holding roses in clenched fists under the campaign banner: “Thanks for the flowers, but we want respect.”
To the west, in Kosovo, large groups of women and men marched through Pristina urging women’s liberation.
While International Women’s Day sought to highlight the enduring discrimination women face in all aspects of life, from employment to cultural sexism, it also endeavored to shed a light on the often-forgotten female contributions to society throughout history.