World capitals: (Agencies: 8/3/2009): Women around the world have marked International Women’s Day by demanding equal rights, protesting against domestic violence and growing poverty in the global economic crisis.Thousands gathered in public squares from Bangalore to Kinshasa to the capitals of Europe, drawing attention to discrimination and fears facing women in their respective countries.
US President Barack Obama said women are "vital" to solving world challenges and called for "the full and active participation of women around the world".
The French government sought to raise awareness by releasing a book for 18-year-olds titled "Respect Girls", warning teenagers not to buy into stereotypes in advertising and providing information on sexual harassment and equal opportunities.
Western Correspondents meanwhile claim that for women mainly outside the West, however, their very existence is in peril from violence and cultural attitudes that endanger their lives.
In Africa, women called attention to the plight of their sex in war zones. Some 10,000 women marched in the streets of Kinshasa to protest massive and savage violence against women and children using them as a weapon of war.
In Iraq, despite post-war reconstruction, many women – especially widows – are too poor to provide for their families, according to a report by aid agency Oxfam, published to mark International Women’s Day.
Yakin Erturk, the United Nations’ rapporteur on violence against women, told a weekend conference in Malaysia that women must demand their governments carry out pledges to grant them equal rights and ensure their safety.
And the Colombian office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pressed for violent sex crimes against women to be investigated and punished, saying that often "the guilty parties are members of several armed groups".
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this week one woman in five around the globe has been a victim of rape or attempted rape, and that in some countries one woman in three has been beaten or subjected to some kind of violent act.