They’re calling for equal wages, better working conditions, and an end to domestic violence.
Women and men in more than 200 cities in Spain took to the streets on March 8, International Women’s Day, to call for equal wages, better working conditions, and an end to domestic violence in the country’s first-ever “feminist protest.”
Holding signs reading, “if we stop, the world stops,” throngs of marchers shut down the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, and other major cities — canceling 300 trains and disrupting Madrid’s metro, BBC reports.
Union representatives say that more than 5 million joined the strike this morning, according to the Spanish newspaper Expansión. An El País poll, released Tuesday, found that four in five Spaniards supported the strike, including nearly 90% of women.
“Today we call for a society free of sexist oppression, exploitation and violence,” the 8th of March Commission, which organized the walkout, said in a statement. “We call for rebellion and a struggle against the alliance of the patriarchy and capitalism that wants us to be obedient, submissive and quiet. We do not accept worse working conditions, nor being paid less than men for the same work. That is why we are calling a work strike.”
The protest found support in Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau and Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena, the Guardian reports.
“This isn’t only about calling for true equality, but also about facing the need to change how the world treats women,” Carmena wrote in a tweet Thursday.
Spain wasn’t the only country that saw women take to the streets to sound out a call for equality. Women in Italy, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, India, China, South Korea, and Afghanistan also marched on Thursday, according to the New York Times.
Although the gender gap — which includes economic, political, education, and health disparities — has decreased in many countries in the past several decades, the world will still need 217 years to close the gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum.
In Spain, the gender pay gap in 2017 remained at 13% for public sector employees and 19% for those in the private sector, according to Eurostat statistics.
But Thursday’s protest put further pressure on leaders to address this inequality.
“This is the century of women,” Colau, the Mayor of Barcelona, said. “We have lifted up our voices and we will not stop. Enough violence, discrimination, and pay inequality!”