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The Latest: Catholic women challenge pope for greater voice

March 8, 2018
Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on International Women's Day (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

Catholic women are challenging Pope Francis to give women a greater voice in Catholic Church decision-making, warning that they are leaving the church in droves because its all-male leadership refuses to change their entrenched second-class status.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese, an outspoken advocate for women's ordination and gay rights, was the keynote speaker Thursday at an International Women's Day conference that was moved off Vatican territory this year because a cardinal declined to sponsor it due to McAleese's participation.

In her speech, delivered at the Rome headquarters of Francis' Jesuit order, McAleese said "The Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the toxic virus of misogyny. Its leadership has never sought a cure for that virus though the cure is freely available: Its name is equality."


10:20 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says his government is going to name and shame companies that don't respect the law on gender equality.

For International Women's Day, Macron has visited a property company awarded for its efforts toward gender equality.

He said that pointing the finger at companies that don't comply with the law "will make them change, because no one wants to be the worst student in the class."

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveiled Wednesday a government plan to push for gender equality in the workplace.

One measure would sanction companies with more than 50 employees, if there is an "unjustified" gender wage gap, with a substantial financial penalty.

Statistics show at the same age and equivalent job, there is a 9 percent gap between the wages of men and women in France


9:40 p.m.

Asia Argento, an Italian actress who helped launch the #MeToo movement, is launching a new movement, #WeToo, which aims to unite women against the power imbalance in favor of men.

Argento told Radio 24 on Thursday that her aim was "to finally change the patriarchal system so rooted in our culture, not just in Italy." She called on women to join her at a women's march in Rome later in the day, and participate in a strike to illustrate the contributions of women at home and in the workplace.

Argento helped give strength to other women to report sexual assault and harassment when she accused Harvey Weinstein of rape in an expose by The New Yorker. The accusations drew a backlash in Italy for having waited 20 years to come forward.


9:35 p.m.

Hundreds of women have marched in Pakistan's capital and elsewhere on International Women's Day, demanding more rights and denouncing harassment, which is common at homes and in work places.

Chanting slogans, they rallied in the capital Islamabad, Pakistan's largest city Karachi, and in the cultural capital of Lahore.

At Thursday's rallies, women denounced violence against them in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are killed by close relatives each year in so-called honor killings.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi earlier addressed a gathering of women and assured them full protection.

Women in Pakistan have a reasonable presence in the parliament but they have to rely on fellow male lawmakers to amend discriminatory or flawed laws.

Pakistani women have largely been deprived of their rights since the country gained independence in 1947.


9:30 p.m.

Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle have met female students studying science, technology, engineering and math as part of celebrations marking International Women's Day.

Some 90 students met the royal couple on Thursday at Millennium Point in Birmingham as part of an event to inspire young people to take part in science and tech careers.

Markle seemed impressed by the aspirations of the students, many of whom wanted to be doctors or surgeons.

Harry and Markle are touring the country to introduce the American actress to the people of Britain before their marriage at Windsor Castle on May 19.


9:25 p.m.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans must work together to improve the status of women who face discrimination and disadvantages "at home and in the workplace."

Ramaphosa, who took office last month, said Thursday that his compatriots should use International Women's Day to decide what they can do to advance gender equality.

Ramaphosa says South Africa has made progress toward equality since the end of apartheid in 1994 in building an equal society. He said "patriarchy has no place in the South Africa we are building today."

South Africa has a high rate of violent crime, including rape.

9:10 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says on International Women's Day that while much has been achieved, the struggle for more equality for women in Germany and worldwide must continue.

Merkel, considered one of the world's most powerful women, said Thursday in a video message that "many women before us have made sacrifices and fought persistently so that women would have more rights ... but there's still a lot to do."

The chancellor said that, "there are also new tasks for men" — but she didn't elaborate further.

Merkel added, "Therefore today is not only a day to look back at what has been achieved, but also a day on which we say — the struggle for equal rights of women continues."


8:25 p.m.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is urging men to stop physically abusing their wives, in official remarks Thursday while marking International Women's Day.

Domestic violence is common across in Uganda, although victims rarely report perpetrators to the police for fear of being stigmatized or thrown out of their homes.

"If you want to fight, why don't you look for a fellow man and fight?" Museveni said, calling domestic abusers cowards.

Museveni said lifting women up economically, through education and entrepreneurship, can help bring an end to rampant domestic violence.

He said: "If the girls are not economically empowered, they will remain vulnerable to these bully men."


8:15 p.m.

A leading French newspaper has found a novel way to mark International Women's Day — by upping its price for men, to mimic the pay gap.

The all-red front page of Thursday's edition of the left-leaning daily Liberation wrote in bold letters "For Women 2 euros, normal price."

The paper added that for one day only, men would pay 50 cents more, a reflection of the 25 percent less that women in France are paid than men, on average.

Liberation said it wants to "highlight this injustice" with its price increase for men.

"A punishment? No. A contribution!" the paper wrote on the front page, saying the extra money recovered from men on Thursday would go to the Laboratory of Equality, which has long fought for gender equality.


7:15 p.m.

U.S. national soccer team striker Alex Morgan and Brazil forward Marta are among the players chosen for the FIFPro Women's World XI. The team was announced Thursday to coincide with International Women's Day.

Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl of Sweden is joined by defenders Nilla Fischer of Sweden, Lucy Bronze of England, Irene Paredes of Spain and Wendie Renard of France. Midfielder Dzsenifer Maroszan of Germany, Camille Abily of France, Pernille Harder of Denmark and Lieke Martens of the Netherlands round out the 11.

Morgan says having a Women's World XI team "helps female footballers recognize the talent among their peers and I'm really happy to encourage and be a part of that."


7:05 p.m.

Opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has conducted a solo picket outside the lower house of the Russian parliament to demand the resignation of a prominent lawmaker whom several female journalists accuse of sexual harassment.

The allegations against Leonid Slutsky, head of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, include sexual groping and making demeaning comments. Parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has dismissed the complaints, saying that journalists who feel unsafe covering the Duma should get other jobs.

Sobchak held her demonstration on Thursday, International Women's Day, which is observed as a public holiday in Russia. She held a placard reading "Deputies -- we don't want you."

President Vladimir Putin, with approval ratings of some 80 percent, is seeking a fourth term in the March 18 election.


7 p.m.

Spanish women are marking International Women's Day with the first-ever full day strike and dozens of protests across the country against the wage gap and gender violence.

Under the slogan "If we stop, the world stops," women working both in and outside their homes, unpaid caretakers and students are called to join the 24-hour strike by the March 8 Commission, a platform of feminist organizations that also demands equal opportunities for working women.

CCOO and UGT, two of the main workers' unions in Spain have called for morning and afternoon 2-hour work stoppages. In Madrid, a massive demonstration was expected later in the evening.

In Barcelona, protesters who disrupted traffic into the city center were seen in social media videos being pushed by anti-riot police agents.


4 p.m.

During Taliban rule many would have been afraid to leave their homes, but hundreds of women gathered in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday to commemorate International Women's Day — and to remind their leaders that plenty of work remains to be done to give Afghan woman a voice, ensure their education and protect them from increasing violence.

The head of the Independent Human Rights Commission, Sima Samar, directed some comments at women in Afghanistan's security forces.

"Your safety represents the safety of all Afghan women," she said, reminding women in uniform to report any abuse by superiors to the rights commission. She said no one has the right to comment on their physical appearance or to speak to them disrespectfully.


This item has been corrected to show that the women gathered in Kabul but did not march.


3:30 p.m.

Hundreds of women have held street plays and marched in the Indian capital to highlight domestic violence, sexual attacks and discrimination in jobs and wages on International Women's Day.

They carried placards reading, "Unite against violence against Women," ''Man enough to say no to domestic abuse," and "My body, My choice."

Violent crime against women has been on the rise in India despite tough laws enacted by the government.

Office workers, school teachers and sex workers were among those participating in the 2-kilometer (1.25 mile) march, which ended near Parliament.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "India is moving from women development to women-led development. Through their exemplary deeds, several women have left an indelible mark in the history of humankind."


2:30 p.m.

Hundreds of South Koreans are staging a protest in support of the #MeToo movement on International Women's Day.

Protesters, many wearing black and holding black signs reading #MeToo, gathered in central Seoul. They called for bringing alleged sexual offenders to justice, as well as action on other issues such as closing a gender pay gap.

Since a female prosecutor's revelation in January of workplace mistreatment and sexual misconduct, South Korea's #MeToo movement has gained major traction. The list of women who speak out is growing daily.

Several high-profile men have resigned from positions of power, including a governor who was a leading presidential contender before he was accused of repeatedly raping his secretary.


12:30 p.m.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi says peaceful democracies make good use of women's strength in political, economic and social fields.

In a speech marking International Women's Day, she said, "A country's human rights values will be enhanced when women are granted their rights."

Thursday was the third year the annual event was celebrated under a civilian government in Myanmar, where the military that long ruled the country is still powerful.

Suu Kyi leads the political party that won by a landslide in 2015 elections but the constitution bars her from becoming the president.

Though Myanmar has a woman leading its civilian government, a profound gender gap remains in the country of 52 million people.


11:30 a.m.

Students at China's prestigious Tsinghua University are celebrating International Women's Day with banners making light of a proposed constitutional amendment to scrap term limits for the country's president.

One banner joked that a boyfriend's term should also have no limits, while another said, "A country cannot exist without a constitution, as we cannot exist without you!"

Photos of the banners were shared on Chinese social media Wednesday night before they were scrubbed by censors. Several online commenters also said the posters appeared to have been swiftly removed.

China's ceremonial legislature is poised to pass a constitutional amendment that will allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely during its ongoing annual session.

Despite heavy censorship, the move has been criticized by liberal intellectuals as a return to dictatorship and satirized online.


11 a.m.

Marches and demonstrations in Asia are kicking off rallies around the world to mark International Women's Day.

Hundreds of women activists in pink and purple shirts protested Thursday in the Philippines against President Rodrigo Duterte, who they said is among the worst violators of women's rights in Asia.

Protest leaders sang and danced in a boisterous rally in downtown Manila's Plaza Miranda. They handed red and white roses to mothers, sisters and widows of several drug suspects slain under Duterte's deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

A rally for the rights of female workers was scheduled for later Thursday in central Seoul in South Korea, where a rapidly spreading #Metoo movement is galvanizing support for women's issues.

Other events are planned across Asia, the Mideast, Europe and the Americas.



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