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Topless protesters call for change during International Women’s Day

PROTESTERS around the world came together to mark International Women's Day – and some got topless to call for gender equality.


In Spain, women went on a nationwide strike and held hundreds of rallies, closing many main roads and squares.

Their protests included marches at which they chanted slogans such as "we continue to fight regardless of the cost!" and "long live the women's struggle".

Topless women can be seen shouting and carrying barriers.

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PROTEST: Topless women take to the streets in Santiago, Chile

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EQUALITY: Women in Cali, Colombia, call for gender parity in the streets

The two largest unions said around 6 million women took part.

The day had extra resonance this year after widespread sexual abuse accusations in Hollywood sparked the MeToo movement. 

Feminists hope this signals one of the most significant shifts towards equal rights in decades.

“This is just the beginning of a revolution for women in Saudi Arabia”

Sama Kinsara

In Saudi Arabia, a group of women whooped and cheered as they marked the day by exercising a recently acquired freedom.

They have the right to go for a jog.

Wearing big smiles and traditional full-length robes adapted for sport, they pounded through sleepy alleys past puzzled shopkeepers in Jeddah's historic district.

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ANGRY: Spanish protesters call for gender equality in a day of strikes

Women in the deeply conservative kingdom are hopeful of huge changes. 

The government introduced physical education for girls last year and began licensing women's sports clubs, but Saudis are still coming around to women running in public.

"This is just the beginning of a revolution for women in Saudi Arabia. In jobs, in our lives, in society, everything is going to change for Saudi women," said one of the joggers, university student Sama Kinsara.

The biggest change yet will come in the summer when Saudi women will be allowed to drive.

In Turkey's Hatay province, near the Syrian border, women wept as they sat on the ground, their hands bound with scarves, to show solidarity with women imprisoned in Syria. 

Others waved flags, chanting against President Bashar al-Assad: "Murderer Assad, evacuate the prisons!"

In Manila more than a thousand activists marched, calling President Rodrigo Duterte a "macho-fascist" for his lewd comments and treatment of his female critics.

In Iran, where there has been a spate of protests against mandatory Islamic dress, women and men gathered in front of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour, and Social Welfare, chanting slogans, videos on social media showed.

"No to gender inequality, No to discriminatory laws" the women chanted in a video.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), a New York-based advocacy group, said at least 12 people were arrested.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday accused Iran's enemies of funding anti-hijab protests.

"As the result some girls were deceived and removed their veil here and there," he said. "But that's a small issue. What I find worrying is that some of the elite are now questioning mandatory hijab."

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