Demonstrations, conferences and artistic events around the world marked International Women’s Day, an annual celebration established to recognize women and demand equality for half of the world’s population.
While activists in some parts of the planet noted progress, repression in countries like Afghanistan and Iran – and the large numbers of women and girls affected by sexual and domestic violence worldwide – highlighted the ongoing struggle to secure women’s rights.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted this week that women’s rights are being “misused, threatened and violated” around the world and that gender equality will not be achieved for the next 300 years given the current rate of change.
Progress made in decades is disappearing because “the patriarchy is fighting back,” Guterres said.
Even in countries that have made breakthrough advances for women, there have been recent setbacks to the feminist cause: This is the first International Women’s Day since the US Supreme Court last year ended the constitutional right to abortion and many states introduced restrictions on abortion .
The UN recognized International Women’s Day in 1977, but the occasion has its roots in labor movements of the early 20th century. The day is commemorated in different ways and to varying degrees in different countries.