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International Women's Day: Celebrations and protests (PHOTOS)

International Women's Day was marked by both celebrations and protests, around the world.

Women across the world marked International Women's Day in different ways, using the day to celebrate women's roles in society and to protest for equal rights and a political voice.

International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1911, in four European countries, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The rallies held then in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland drew thousands of supporters. However, until the 1970s, celebrations of International Women's Day were mostly confined to Europe. In 1975, the United Nations recognized March 8 as the official date for International Women's Day.

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On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that despite the progress made "there is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity that are their birthright and that will guarantee their well-being," reported The Christian Science Monitor.

Turkey marked the day by passing laws that would provide better protection for women and children suffering from abuse, said the Associated Press. It especially sought to tackle the spate of "honor killings" as it vies for membership in the European Union. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "We will provide legal and financial assistance and shelters to the victims," according to the AP.

Brazil's female president, Dilma Rousseff, also announced tougher punishment for men found guilty of domestic abuse. According to the Guardian, 10 women meet violent deaths in Brazil each day.

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Some countries, including China, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Burkina Faso, made the day a national holiday, said The Washington Post. Other countries, such as Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Egypt and the Philippines saw rallies and protests. In Cairo, hundreds of women marched in a call for equal rights and a say in Egyptian government, said the Guardian.

Palestinian activists drew attention to the treatment of Hana Shalabi, who has been held in an Israeli prison since Feb. 16. She is one of seven Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons, according to the Guardian.

Many, of course, marked the day by donating to causes and remembering the progress that has been made. Glenda Stone, the founder of the International Women's Day website, said in a statement, "Offline large scale women’s rallies have become even larger through the use of social media. It would be hard to find any country that did not celebrate the day in some way."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/120308/international-womens-day-celebrations-and-protests