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How the world celebrated International Women's Day

A number of events and honours coast to coast marked International Women's Day

March 09, 2018

As part of their Inspiring Women doll series, Barbie has released dolls in the image of pilot Amelia Earhart, left, Mexican artist Frida Khalo and mathematician Katherine Johnson for International Women's Day. (Barbie/Associated Press)

A boxing Barbie doll, "suffragette" flashmob and Wikipedia edit-a-thon were among a host of quirky initiatives aimed at highlighting gender inequalities and overturning stereotypes on International Women's Day on March 8.

In a year which has seen the birth of the #MeToo movement on sexual harassment and abuse, women around the world have been pushing for more rights and visibility.

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In Paris, an edit-a-thon invited people to create, edit or translate Wikipedia pages about women who have played a key role or who still contribute in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

Only 17 per cent of biographies published on Wikipedia are about women, according to the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO, which organized the event.

Toy manufacturers also got in on the act. A Barbie doll in the likeness of British Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams, complete with "boxing gloves to shatter any glass ceiling", was unveiled to mark International Women's Day.

Toymaker Mattel, whose Barbie dolls have in the past drawn criticism for promoting harmful stereotypes, said it hoped the Adams doll would inspire girls to achieve greatness.

Other women role models getting the Barbie treatment include U.S. Olympic snowboarding star Chloe Kim.

Also challenging stereotypes was Little Miss Inventor, a new character in the Mr. Men and Little Miss children's book series, who made her debut on Thursday.

Little Miss Inventor, a female engineer who sports a spanner and pencils in her hair, aims to provide a positive role model and challenge stereotypes about STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - where women are often underrepresented.

Around the world, over 60 stock exchanges — up from 43 last year — hosted bell ceremonies to raise awareness of the key role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality.

In Britain, which was celebrating 100 years since women won the right to vote, a flashmob descended on London's St Paul's Cathedral to honour suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst who were pivotal in getting women the vote.

Britain celebrated this year's International Women's Day with a history lesson. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of People Act 1918, which gave women the right to vote. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

They performed a choral work called the Pankhurst Anthem, written by the suffragette's great-granddaughter Helen Pankhurst and composed by Lucy Pankhurst, who is also related.

But despite the celebrations and positive role models, a study released on Wednesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows women in every country still do far more unpaid work, like childcare and chores, than men. 

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