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'A day without us' - millions of Mexican women go on strike

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Grounded: A woman lies on the floor during a protest to mark International Women’s Day at Zocalo square in Mexico City. Photo: Reuters/Mahe Elipe

Grounded: A woman lies on the floor during a protest to mark International Women’s Day at Zocalo square in Mexico City. Photo: Reuters/Mahe Elipe

REUTERS

Grounded: A woman lies on the floor during a protest to mark International Women’s Day at Zocalo square in Mexico City. Photo: Reuters/Mahe Elipe

Millions of Mexican women stayed away from offices, schools and government agencies to join a second day of marches to protest against violence and macho culture, as an eerie quiet fell on normally bustling streets and factories.

The wildcat strike, dubbed "a day without us", is intended to show what life would be like if women vanished from society. It followed a series of massive protests on Sunday to mark International Women's Day.

In the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, on the border with the US, factories stood unusually quiet as many women stayed home.

"I don't even want to think if this went on for a prolonged period of time," said Luis Carrillo, a manager at NPD Technology, which makes electronic parts for automatic doors in a city famed for its numerous assembly plants.

"There would be huge losses," he said, adding that the company was proud to support its overwhelmingly female workforce and viewed the protests as positive.

Rows of tables and desks were unoccupied on the factory floor.

Mexico's work stoppages drew indigenous Zapatista women in the south and foreign ministry employees in the capital into a protest that sought to illustrate what life would be like without them.

A video posted online showed the empty desks of foreign ministry workers. Notes posted on chairs bemoaned violence against women.

Last week, leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador angered many women by suggesting the protest movement had been infiltrated by conservatives and other critics of his government. Paola Rojas, a female columnist for major daily 'El Universal', left her space in the newspaper blank except for a hashtag supporting the protest.

Elsewhere in Latin America, in Chile women wearing medical uniforms, industrial overalls and school uniforms joined a march down a central thoroughfare of Santiago, the capital, to congregate outside President Sebastian Pinera's office.

They banged drums, danced and chanted: "And how, how, how the hell can they torture and rape us and no one does anything?"

Among them was Rosa Ramirez-Rios, an actress in her 70s. Six months ago, many women in the crowd would not have dared to take part, she said. "I know it's a long process. We must have patience, persistence, a lot of courage and a lot of desire."

Irish Independent