The Latest: UN’s Guterres: Prioritize empowerment of women

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on International Women’s Day events (all times local):

10 a.m.

The U.N. secretary general says the effective way to protect the rights of women is by prioritizing the empowerment of women.

Antonio Guterres, speaking in Nairobi where he is in an official visit, said Wednesday priority should be given for the “full presence of women” in government institutions, political systems, and business among other aspects of society.

Guterres says with the full presence of women in society development will be stronger, peace will be easier to maintain, human rights will also be better protected.

He says in his past posting as U.N. high commissioner for refugees he saw suffering of women in the most tragic circumstances that one can imagine.


9:50 a.m.

Showing support on the International Women’s Day, hundreds have joined a protest by women in tiny Montenegro against cuts in state aid for mothers of three or more children.

Financial help for some 21,500 women in Montenegro — a country of 620,000 people — has been slashed by 25 percent amid efforts to tighten public spending. About half of the women on the list are jobless.

Montenegrin women have been protesting for days demanding that the government decision be reversed. Protesters on Wednesday blocked traffic outside the parliament building in downtown Podgorica, the capital, shouting “thieves.”

Montenegro’s economy has been weak despite recent progress in the Balkan country’s efforts at joining NATO and the European Union.


9:45 a.m.

In Puerto Rico, more than 100 women clad in purple T-shirts blocked one of the island’s main highways as they linked arms and marched through the capital of San Juan at dawn.

The group clutched large purple flags emblazoned with the female symbol and used bull horns to decry chauvinism and demand more reproductive rights, among other things as nearby drivers honked in support Wednesday on International Women’s Day.

Other activities are planned throughout the day in the U.S. territory.


9:30 a.m.

Dozens of women lay on the ground and read out the names of women killed by their partners in Romania to draw attention to their plight on International Women’s Day.

Women gathered in front of the justice ministry Wednesday in an event called “One fall, we all fall.” The women then lay on the ground, to symbolize the deaths, and read out loud the details of 37 women, between the ages of 16 and 66, who have been slain. They then placed a tulip for each woman killed on the ground, in front of the ministry.

Some of the women had been strangled, another was shot with a hunting rifle, while others were beaten or fatally stabbed.

Carmen Gheorghe, an organizer, said some 70 women are slain by their partners each year in Romania.


9 a.m.

Women across Poland are staging rallies and marches to demand protection against violence, equal rights and respect.

Hollywood actress Jessica Chastain took part in a protest walk across the street in downtown Warsaw. She was in the city for a gala screening of her latest movie “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

Hundreds of women also gathered in front of the offices of the head of the ruling conservative party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland’s most powerful politician. The government promotes Catholic values and is trying to ban abortion.

The women demanded “flowers, respect, rights.”

They were later to march through Warsaw.

Protests were also held in dozens of other cities in Poland.


8:45 a.m.

About 200 people gathered Wednesday in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol to mark International Women’s Day and support a group of women who, a day earlier, ended a hunger strike to demand politicians’ action against domestic violence.

Rights organizations had called for women to dress in black outfits and stop working, studying, consuming or taking care of others in order to show what would happen if women disappeared, a worldwide initiative launched under the slogan “Not One Woman Less.”

Activist Gloria Vazquez represents Velaluz Association, whose members decided Tuesday to end a 26-day hunger strike after receiving enough assurances from lawmakers and officials to address their demands, which include better protection for victims of domestic violence.

In 2016, 44 women died in Spain in the hands of their partners or former partners. At least 16 women have been murdered so far in 2017.


8:30 a.m.

In Manila, Philippines, hundreds of activists from left-wing women’s groups protested Wednesday at the U.S. Embassy, where they burned a mock U.S. flag with President Donald Trump’s image, before joining a bigger rally outside the presidential palace.

In both rallies, they demanded an end to the presence of visiting U.S. troops and a crackdown against illegal drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte that has left thousands of drug suspects dead.

The protesters hit a huge paper mask made in the likeness of Duterte as they ranted against an array of issues, including a lack of jobs, poverty, violence against women and the approval on Tuesday by the House of Representatives of a bill to re-impose the death penalty for drug offenses.


8 a.m.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE’-tree med-VYEH’-dyev) has approved a five-year national action plan supporting women’s interests.

The signing came on International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

Valentina Matvienko, who as speaker of the upper house of parliament is one of Russia’s most prominent female politicians, calls the strategy a “gift to all the women of Russia.”

The plan sets out broad terms for improving women’s health, their economic opportunities and their involvement in the country’s politics.

Meanwhile, Russian news reports say seven women have been arrested after a demonstration on Moscow’s Red Square marking International Women’s Day.

The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta said those arrested included four activists, two of the newspaper’s reporters and a photographer.


7:30 a.m.

Germany airline Lufthansa says six all-female crews are flying in support of International Women’s Day and to try and drum up interest in the industry among more women.

Lufthansa said 12 female pilots on Wednesday are flying passengers from Frankfurt, Munich, Duesseldorf, Zurich, Vienna and Brussels to Berlin.

Only six percent of the pilots in the Lufthansa Group currently are women, but Lufthansa’s working to increase that number. Around 80 percent of cabin staff are female.


7:10 a.m.

Sweden’s women’s football team marked International Women’s Day by replacing the names on the back of their jersey’s with tweets from Swedish women “who have struggled to gain ground in their respective field.”

The team that grabbed silver at the 2016 Olympics on Wednesday wore the blue and yellow soccer jerseys with tweets by leading Swedes — including feminist Gudrun Schyman, singer Zara Larsson and rapper Silvana Imam — instead of the players’ names at a Algarve Cup 2017 tournament in Portugal.

Swedish Football Association spokesman Niklas Bodell said the initiative “is first and foremost about showing the power in togetherness.”

He said “the initiative #InYourName is meant to live on.”


7 a.m.

President Donald Trump is taking note of Wednesday’s U.N.-designated International Women’s Day, and asking his Twitter followers to join him in “honoring the critical role of women” in the United States and around the world.

Trump tweets that he has “tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”

Organizers of the massive women’s march in Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration are urging women to take the day off and not spend money as a way of demonstrating their economic strength and impact on American society.

“A Day Without a Woman” marks organizers’ first major action since the nationwide marches on Jan. 21 that drew millions of participants in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression.


6:45 a.m.

Finland — the first country in the world to grant women political rights — will later this year create a $160,000 (150,000-euro) International Gender Equality Prize that will be given to “a dedicated defender and builder of equality.”

Prime Minister Juha Sipila says the award, given every other year, is the first of its kind in the world.

Sipila announced it Wednesday to coincide with celebrations of Finland’s 100 years of independence and the International Women’s Day.

Finnish women were the first in Europe to win voting rights in 1906. The Nordic nation of 5.5 million is a strong advocate for women’s rights and is seen one of the most egalitarian societies in the world along with its Scandinavian neighbors.


6:15 a.m.

The leaders of Cyprus’ Christian and Muslim faithful are pledging to work with authorities and help end violence against women and girls on the ethnically divided island.

The heads of Cyprus’ Muslim, Orthodox, Armenian and Maronite Christian communities, issued a first-ever joint statement on International Women’s Day Wednesday to condemn violence targeting women and girls.

Stating that Christianity and Islam condemn violence against women, the leaders said it is their religious duty to stand united against it. They also rejected the “misuse of religion to vindicate” violence against women and girls.

They expressed concern that violence continues to be “one of the most pervasive manifestations of discrimination” against women in Cyprus.

Researchers said almost one in three women have experienced some form of violence since the age of 15.


5:40 a.m.

Some 200 women gathered for a march to mark International Women’s Day in Tokyo, protesting against low wages, long hours and other obstacles that make their lives difficult.

Participants, many of them members of women’s groups and labor unions, chanted “It’s hard to be a woman, and our patience is running out!” and held up placards and banners saying “Let’s change our future!”

Japan lags behind most other industrial countries in women’s participation and advancement in business, academics and politics. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “womenomics” policy aims to put more women to work to counter a chronically low birth rate and shrinking workforce, but a business culture in which long hours are routine makes it more difficult for women to get ahead.


4:50 a.m.

The president of the European Parliament has used the occasion of International Women’s Day to promise that a Polish lawmaker will be punished for the crude, sexist comments he made last week.

EU parliament President Antonio Tajani said that he intends to bring a “swift conclusion” to the probe into the remarks of Janusz Korwin-Mikke at the legislature and promised “a penalty commensurate with the gravity of the offence.”

Korwin-Mikke, a radical right-winger who leads a marginal party, said during a debate on the pay gap between men and women: “Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less, that’s all.”

He could face sanctions such as a reprimand, a fine or a temporary suspension.


4:40 a.m.

Denmark’s minister for gender equality, Karen Ellemann, is focusing on paternity leave on International Women’s Day, saying equality between the sexes “also means equal opportunities to be a parent.”

Ellemann spoke Wednesday when visiting Danish companies “to learn more about what makes fathers choose as they do.”

According to official figures, Danish men in 2014 took on average 29.5 days’ paternity leave, or 11 days more than they did in 2003.

In Denmark, parents have the right to a total of 52 weeks’ leave with maternity subsistence allowance. The mother is entitled to four weeks’ maternity leave prior to giving birth and 14 weeks after; the father is entitled to two weeks’ leave after the birth; and the remaining time can be divided according to individual wishes.


4:30 a.m.

Scores of women working in the childcare industry in Australia have walked off the job early on International Women’s Day to protest what they deem inadequate pay rates.

The United Voice union, which represents the workers, said more than 1,000 staffers at childcare centers in every state and territory in Australia stopped working at 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday to call attention to wage disparities felt throughout an industry where the vast majority of workers are women.

“3:20 represents the time that Australian women ostensibly start working for free in comparison to men if you take into account the gender pay gap,” said Helen Gibbons, the union’s assistant national secretary.

“We know that this has traditionally been seen as women’s work,” Gibbons said. “It’s 2017 and this is not OK to continue. The people who work in this sector demand equal pay.”


2 a.m.

Organizers of January’s Women’s March have called for women to take the day off and encouraged them not to spend money to show their economic strength and impact on American society.

“A Day Without a Woman” on Wednesday is the first major action by organizers since the nationwide marches held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration that drew millions of women into the streets in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression. Though it is unclear how many women could participate, thousands across the country have signaled their support and interest online and to employers.

The event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day, and organizers say they want to “stand with women around the globe” who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with similar protests in cities around the world.