Protests and strikes broke out across Spain for International Women’s Day, targeting the wage gap, poor labor conditions, domestic violence, and recognition for domestic laborers. It is the first time that a women’s strike has been organized in Spain.
Starting at midnight in Madrid, the protests went on for a full 24 hours. 300 demonstrations convened in more than 200 locations across Spain, gathered predominantly in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Granada, and Bilbao. Public transportation was all but shut down. A student protest in Madrid stopped traffic, as attendees sat down and spanned two lanes of a major road.
The initial estimates from the Government Delegation put the main Madrid protest at about 170,000 attendees.
Barcelona’s Urban Guard reported that 200,000 people supported the movement in the city. The organizers in Barcelona were forced to move the starting point of the protest down several blocks to accommodate those flooding in from the subways.
Using the slogan Ens aturem per canviar-ho tot (“We stopped to change everything”), march organizers The 8 March Commission (named for March 8, the day protests took place) has outlined its desires in a manifesto on their website: “We denounce budget cuts in the sectors that most affect women: the health system, social services and education. We denounce corruption as an aggravating factor in the crisis. We denounce the patriarchal justice that does not consider us subjects of full right. We denounce the serious repression and cuts of rights that we are suffering. We demand full equality of rights and conditions of life, and the total acceptance of our diversity.”
Data from the European Union’s Eurostat shows just how large a rift there is between salaries. Spanish women's public sector was paid 13% less than its male counterpart, with the number going up to 19% in the private sector. In a survey conducted by Spanish news organization El País, half of the female participants said that they’d been discriminated against due to their gender. Domestic violence is also on the rise in the country.
Although marchers were dancing and throwing balloons, a sign in Barcelona’s rally reflected the anger surrounding these issues.
“It’s not a party,” the sign proclaimed. “You’re killing us.”