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“IF we stop, the world stops,” blasted women’s organisations and trade unions across Spain today as hundreds of thousands went on strike to mark International Women’s Day .
At least 1,400 marches took place across the country with the CCOO and UGT unions backing a two-hour lunchtime stoppage. The March 8 Commission said the strike should last 24 hours.
Unions estimated 5.3 million women participated while hundreds of thousands took part in marches through 120 Spanish towns and cities.
The issue has an added significance with a general election taking place on April 28. The Socialist Party (PSOE)-led government of Pedro Sanchez limited institutional activity to the regular Friday Cabinet meeting.
He said: “Only with feminism will we end violence against women and achieve real equality.”
Spain’s gender pay gap is 14.2 percent, two points below the EU average according to the latest statistics.
Government statistics on gender violence showed that 47 women were killed by their partners or ex-partners last year with at least 975 dead since 2003.
While most progressives backed today’s action there was a backlash from conservative and reactionary parties which refused to join the marches.
The Popular Party (PP) condemned “left-wing feminism,” refusing to join the march as it claimed it had been co-opted by the left while ultraconservative Catholic group Hazte Oir has been touring Spain with a bus emblazoned with Hitler’s face on the side as part of its campaign against what it describes as “femi-nazis.”
The far-right Vox Party also distanced itself from yesterday’s action with its leader Rocio Monasterio saying: “We don’t believe in gender laws, or quotas, nor in this feminist supremacy that seeks only privileges — not for women — but for a minority of opportunists and lobbies.”
Workers at the El Pais newspaper joined more than 8,000 women at four different media outlets backing a manifesto called Las periodistas paramos (Women journalists strike) in support of the Women’s Day stoppage.
“We are not normally the subject of news stories ourselves, but on this occasion we want to use our power to get the message across. Some of Spain’s best-known women in television and radio journalism have said they will not go on the air today.
“And at El Pais, women will take their bylines off their articles, join the strike, and demonstrate on the street in order to demand effective equality and no step backwards in the rights we have fought for and won,” a statement said.
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