World news

Protests across the world to mark International Women's Day

Ukrainian feminists march on the occasion of the International Women's Day in Kiev yesterday. Picture by Sergei Chuzavkov, Associated Press

Some 200 women have gathered for a march to mark International Women's Day in Tokyo, protesting against low wages, long hours and other obstacles that make their lives difficult.

Participants, many of them members of women's groups and labour unions, chanted "It's hard to be a woman, and our patience is running out", and held up banners saying "Let's change our future".

Japan lags behind most other industrial countries in women's participation and advancement in business, academics and politics.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe's "womenomics" policy aims to put more women to work to counter a chronically low birth rate and shrinking work force, but a business culture in which long hours are routine makes it more difficult for women to get ahead.

Meanwhile, the president of the European Parliament has used the occasion of International Women's Day to promise that a Polish politician will be punished for the crude, sexist comments he made last week.

EU parliament president Antonio Tajani said that he intends to bring a "swift conclusion" to the probe into the remarks of Janusz Korwin-Mikke at the legislature and promised "a penalty commensurate with the gravity of the offence".

Mr Korwin-Mikke, a radical right-winger who leads a marginal party, said during a debate on the pay gap between men and women: "Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less, that's all."

He could face sanctions such as a reprimand, a fine or a temporary suspension.

And scores of women working in the childcare industry in Australia have walked off the job early to protest against what they deem inadequate pay rates.

The United Voice union, which represents the workers, said more than 1,000 staffers at childcare centres in every state and territory in Australia stopped working at 3:20pm on Wednesday to call attention to wage disparities felt throughout an industry where the vast majority of workers are women.

"3:20 represents the time that Australian women ostensibly start working for free in comparison to men if you take into account the gender pay gap," said Helen Gibbons, the union's assistant national secretary.

"We know that this has traditionally been seen as women's work," Ms Gibbons said.

"It's 2017 and this is not OK to continue. The people who work in this sector demand equal pay."

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: