Yesterday, 8 March, International Women's Day, saw some of the biggest demonstrations and rallies in recent years in Spain. Women all over the country had been called to join a “feminist” strike, with the main unions supporting a two-hour stoppage and others calling a 24-hour strike.
According to trade unions, more than five million workers went on strike across the country calling for equality, without which, as many banners read in demonstrations throughout the day, “there can be no freedom”.
“The strike is a turning point in the feminist campaign for equality,” said the secretary general of the UGT union, Pepe Álvarez, at the demonstration on Thursday morning in Madrid's Cibeles square. His counterpart in the country's other main union CCOO, Unai Sordo, described the day as “historic” as this was an “unprecedented strike”.
In the province of Malaga the strike was noted most among public sector workers, especially in education and healthcare.
There was little activity, save protest rallies, on the university campus, while stoppages were held on the PTA (technology park) and the Palacio de Justicia (court building).
Similar protests took place on the steps of hospitals and domestic workers were encouraged to hang aprons on their balconies for two hours as a sign that they had stopped working.
Meanwhile demonstrators gathered in the centres of cities and towns around the country. The rally organised in Malaga's Plaza de la Constitución on Thursday morning attracted thousands more than expected.
The spectator stand being set up for the Holy Week processions, which fills most of the central square, was the scene of an incident when a group of women climbed onto the steps. There were tense moments when they were removed from the stands by Local Police officers for safety reasons.
Slogans chanted included: “resistance,” “sexism is also terrorism,” or “fighting is the only way,” as more and more women joined the march.
Some city buses were forced to turn around after demonstrators sat in the road near the Marqués de Larios monument.
This was only a prelude, however, to the main protest march which started in the city centre on Thursday evening.
Similar rallies took place in towns around the province. In Coín 300 people gathered in the Plaza de la Alameda where a manifesto was read in favour of equality.
In Torremolinos female municipal workers gathered outside the town hall while a similar stoppage took place outside the Casa de la Cultura in Arroyo de la Miel.
In Marbella, a crowd of around 400 people gathered in the Plaza de los Naranjos in a festive atmosphere. The mayor Ángeles Muñoz said she had cleared her agenda for two hours “out of respect” for the women who wanted to draw attention to their fight for equality.