Protesters demonstrate for gender equality in cities across Spain on International Women’s Day

PROTESTERS have begun gathering in cities across Spain as part of a general strike to mark International Women’s Day today (Friday).

Activists have already started protesting in Madrid, Barcelona and elsewhere. More than 1,200 protests are planned across the country today, according to reports.

Demonstrators are staging the protests for a second year running to call for gender equality and to rally against what they say is ongoing discrimination. Today’s protests come one year after some 5.3 million took part in last year’s walkout, according to trade unions.

The General Union of Workers (UGT) said it had called for strikes of at least two hours to mark the day.

“UGT calls on the workers of our country to join this day of struggle against the exploitation of women in the labour market, for the definitive eradication of an excluding patriarchy contrary to democratic principles,” the union said in a statement.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the strikes would make history again this year.

“We want a feminist Spain. Because only with feminism will we end sexist violence and achieve real equality. We will only achieve full democracy from feminism,” Sanchez said.

Irene Montero, of the leftist Podemos, said today was a day of hope and joy.

“Thousands of women have been preparing for this strike for one year. This is a global struggle,” Montero said.

Pablo Casado, leader of the opposition conservative Partido Popular (PP), said he was committed to real equality but has not supported the marches.

“We want to achieve equality together, without discrimination and without dividing society,” Casado said.

The PP and the far-right Vox said they would not support the demonstrations due to them being staged by what they claimed were “extreme” leftist elements.

Some regional governments have reduced their working schedules to mark the day. Others, some controlled by the PP, will continue working as normal.

Protesters cut roads in Barcelona and services on the Madrid Metro have been reduced to 60 per cent of their normal level during rush hour and 35 per cent for the rest of the day.

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Joe Gerrard

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