[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 23:22 GMT
Protests mark global women's day
Bangladeshi women call for greater protection from acid attacks, in Dhaka, on International Women's Day
Men joined women in Bangladesh to protest over acid attacks
Women around the world have been taking to the streets to mark International Women's Day and raise awareness of the discrimination they still face.

A series of marches through 50 nations kicked off in Brazil to highlight a new charter signed by women's groups.

A woman at the centre of a recent gang-rape case in Pakistan led a rally demanding an end to "honour killings".

Men in Bangladesh held their own rally to show solidarity with women calling for more protection from acid attacks.

Film stars, politicians and cricketers were said to be among the 5,000-strong male crowd in Dhaka protesting against attacks that have disfigured an estimated 2,000 girls and women in the past five years.

In Pakistan, a protest of several hundred people was led by Mukhtar Mai, who was gang raped in 2002 because her brother allegedly had sex with a woman from a socially higher tribe. Five of the accused were acquitted last week.

Her case is cited as a high-profile example of the violence facing women in the name of family honour.

Tsunami effects

Thousands of women, young and old, joined in a colourful march in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to commemorate the launch of a charter signed last December by international women's groups who are part of the feminist global network, World March of Women.

Similar rallies will carry the charter across some 50 other countries, the last of which is Burkina Faso, chosen for its poverty and poor protection of women's rights.

If we are to change the historical legacy that puts women at a disadvantage in most societies, we must implement what we have learnt on a larger scale
Kofi Annan,
UN Secretary General

A forum was held in the Thai capital, Bangkok, to address the problems facing women survivors of December's tsunami.

"The Indian Ocean tsunami... has produced some very gender-specific aftershocks, ranging from women giving birth in unsafe conditions to increased cases of rape and abuse," said Cholpon Akmatova, of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development.

There had been speculation in Sweden - an acknowledged world leader in women's rights - that the day would be used to launch the country's first feminist party.

It was enough to prompt Prime Minister Goeran Persson to warn that it could undermine the ruling socialist coalition and bring in a "government that conducts policies that are the exact opposite of what a feminist party would want".

Romantic Russians

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said 2005 marked a milestone in the advancement of women, as it came 10 years after a major conference on the issue in Beijing.

He said there had been "tangible progress" in the past decade on many fronts such as life expectancy and primary education.

But new challenges have arisen - such as the targeting of women in conflict and the "terrifying" growth of HIV/Aids among women, especially young women.

"If we are to change the historical legacy that puts women at a disadvantage in most societies, we must implement what we have learnt on a larger scale," he said in a message to mark International Women's Day.

In Russia though, the emphasis was less on politics and more on romance.

The day was for a long time the closest thing Russians had to Valentine's Day, and Moscow florists were said to be doing a roaring trade as men splashed out for the women in their life.

Pakistan rape victim leads march
07 Mar 05 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific