March 8 marks International Women’s Day, with festivals, concerts and exhibitions among the numerous events planned around the world to celebrate the achievements of women in society.
The annual event has been held since the early 1900s and traditionally promotes a different theme each year, with this year’s edition calling on people to #BeBoldForChange and push for a more gender-inclusive working world.
Reuters photographers have been speaking with women in a range of professions around the world about their experiences of gender inequality.
Tomoe Ichino, 40, Shinto priest – Japan
“In general, people think being a Shinto priest is men’s profession. If you’re a woman, they think you’re a shrine maiden, or a supplementary priestess. People don’t know women Shinto priests exist, so they think we can’t perform rituals. Once, after I finished performing jiichinsai (ground-breaking ceremony), I was asked, ‘So, when is the priest coming?’,”
Filipina Grace Ocol, 40, backhoe operator- Philippines
“There are a few female workers that can drive big trucks and backhoe. If men can do it, why can’t women do it? I’m better than the men, they can only drive trucks here but I can drive both.”
Emilie Jeannin, 37, cow breeder – France
“Once I could not help laughing when an agricultural advisor asked me, where the boss was, when I was standing right in front of him. I can assure you that the meeting got very quickly cut short!”
Ekaterine Kvlividze, 30, military pilot captain
“There were some difficulties at the beginning, I felt some irony, cynicism. I felt they did not appreciate me. But, thank God, during the last 10 years society has changed and nowadays a woman pilot is a normal thing.”
Julia Argunova, 36, mountaineering instructor – Kazakhstan
“Physical strength benefits male colleagues in some situations on harder routes. But, women are more concentrated and meticulous. In general, women are better at teaching. My main professional task is to teach safe mountaineering.”
Laila Sterk, 22, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) female fighter – Syria
“Before becoming a fighter, I was suffering from inequality in society. But after joining the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), I didn’t encounter that anymore. This is due to the fact that when men want to join the SDF they attend educational courses about women fighting alongside them. Therefore the woman fighter leads the military campaigns just like any man.”
Valerie Perron, 53, oyster farmer – France
“It must not be forgotten that it is women, moms, who raise the boys. It is therefore up to us to change the mentalities by raising the boys at their youngest age, in a spirit of parity and equality with the woman. We must change the mentalities of early childhood education. A boy can play with dolls and a little girl with small cars”
Chrifa Nimri, 69, fisherwoman – Tunisia
“At the beginning of my fishing career all the world told me that the trade was for men but now all my colleagues respect and call me captain”
Rosalina Dallago, 52, owner shoeshine shop – Italy
“My customers see me as a professional before they see me as a woman. Mothers should instill a sense of gender equality in their sons.”
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