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French women protest for International Women’s Day

Women across France are being called on to stop work at 15h40 today (March 8) as part of a wave of protests planned to mark the 42nd annual International Women’s Day.

The cut-off point has been calculated as the moment from which - due to unequal pay levels, of an average of 26% nationwide - women are deemed to be “working for free” until the end of the day.

Those who wish to join the protests are invited to wear a purple scarf as a sign of unity. Men are also invited to take part in solidarity with their female colleagues, friends, and family members.

Several demonstrations are planned across France to mark the day, to highlight issues such as the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment, unequal pay, and domestic violence.

One collective, calling itself “8 mars 15h40, l’heure des comptes (March 8 16h40, account time/countdown)”, is aiming to unite 37 associations and unions, across 120 different protest sites, including Place de la République in Paris.

Women’s rights organisations including Attac, les Chiennes de Garde, le Groupe Femmes Gilets Jaunes, and Osez le Féminisme are also included on the list of those planning protests. Unions the CGT, student union Unef, and lycée students from UNL, have also stated their support.

Young climate change protesters, who launched a set of regular protests this month, are also expected to join.

Sexual harassment, workplace inequality, and domestic violence are expected to be some of the major subjects of protest. In France, one woman is killed every three days in a case connected to domestic violence, and since January 1 this year, 30 women have been killed.

Last weekend was the most recent, after a 34-year-old Corsican woman was killed by her ex-husband, despite having made at least two police complaints before the incident happened.

French Secretary of State for equality between men and women, Marlène Schiappa, helped to vote through a new law against sexual and sexist violence last year - a law against which 322 contraventions have already been reported.

This Saturday, the 17th consecutive weekend of gilets jaunes protests is also expected to be dedicated to the rights of women, with women set to lead the demonstrations in Paris and other cities.

They are also expected to be joined by the so-called “pink vests (gilets roses)”, a group of Reception class assistants and childminders - a largely female profession - who are protesting reforms to their unemployment insurance system.

International Women's Day is a global event, with countless organisations holding protests, walk-outs, and other events to mark the occasion worldwide.

Search engine Google, famous for its "Google Doodles", today has an interactive "doodle" (below) highlighting quotations from famous female activists, writers, and artists.

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