From Algeria to Sudan: Arab world ablaze with Women's Day celebrations

From Algeria to Sudan: Arab world ablaze with Women's Day celebrations
Here is a snapshot of International Women's Day celebrations across the Middle East.
3 min read
08 March, 2019
A woman protests in Algeria against their president's bid for a fifth term [AFP/Getty Images]
Marches, protests and strikes are being spearheaded by women across the world on Friday to mark International Women's Day.

Held on 8 March, IWD is a global event celebrating women and continuing the fight for better representation in the workplace, greater rights, and a more of a say in public life. 

An official holiday in 27 countries, women all over the Middle East celebrated the occasion in powerful and novel ways. 

Sudanese women detainees went on hunger strike to commemorate IWD, as peaceful protests continue throughout the country despite an increasingly harsh crackdown by security forces.

Women at Omdurman Prison, detained for taking part in anti-government protests, announced on Thursday they would undertake the hunger strike.

Amnesty International praised the "bold, unapologetic [and] exceptional" women of Sudan "who refuse to give up their quest for respect for human rights for a better Sudan".

Turkish police attempted to block International Women's Day protesters from carrying out their evening march along its usual route, which passes from the Istanbul's central Taksim Square through the main thoroughfare Istiklal Avenue.

Tens of thousands of women attended the march which is the largest Women's Day event in Turkey.

While Women's Day marches in previous years have not been curtailed by police, this year police completely blocked off the avenue from its side-streets and the square and ordering shops to close at 4pm. Police also used pepper spray to fend off protesters, BirGun reported.

Police appeared to relent to the force of thousands of demonstrators later in the evening when they allowed women only to enter Istiklal Avenue once past a body search, dokuz8NEWS reported.

Liberal Jewish women protest at the wailing wall [AFP/Getty]

Four female members of Turkey's gendarmerie units marked the occasion earlier in the day by rappelling down from Istanbul's 15 July Martyrs' Bridge and into the waters of the Bosporus.

In Israel, a liberal Jewish women's group attempted to pray at the Western-Wall in religious attire reserved for men, angering ultra-Orthodox Jews. The women gathered to mark the 30th anniversary of "Women of the Wall", a women's group seeking equality at Judaism's holiest site, which coincided with International Women's Day.

In Algeria, women defied demands from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika not to participate in protests against his bid for a fifth term as president. They were among the thousands of protestors who gathered in the capital Algiers.

A week-long joint campaign "My Rights, Our Power" was launched in Palestine with the participation of over 30 national and international partners, to raise awareness on women's rights in the region.

The UAE Etihad Airways marked the day with its first flight staffed by an all-female crew. The EY017 flight from Abu Dhabi to London was operated by more than 30 women, from the pilot to the load controllers.

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