People take part in a women's strike in Brussels, Belgium, March 8, 2019. Thousands of women went on strike across Belgium on International Women's Day to campaign for women's rights and gender equality, local media reported. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)
BRUSSELS, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of women went on strike across Belgium on Friday during the International Women's Day to campaign for women's rights and gender equality, local media reported.
Over 5,000 female demonstrators, spurred on by an initiative of the "Collecti.e.f March 8" association, gathered Friday afternoon in front of Brussels Central Station before taking part in a march.
Six female politicians from three Belgian parties -- MR, cdH and Defi -- called for women's rights to be a societal priority in all parties and at all levels of power, according to an open letter published Thursday by local press.
The joint letter criticized the growing violence against Belgian women, stressing that "politicians, the media and citizens must shoulder their responsibilities and prevent violence against women as an absolute priority".
Belgium is, according to the World Bank, one of only six countries in the world where women have precisely the same rights under the law as men, reported the Brussels Times.
However, the pay gap was 21 percent in Belgium in 2017 and the pension gap was 28 percent, according to a joint statement made by two local unions -- the FGTB and the CSC.
"Equality between women and men is clearly not a reality," commented Ruth Paluku-Atoka, a member of the strike collective, in the newspaper La Libre. "We have opted for the strike weapon because it is a powerful thing to stop working. It will allow all to see where women are necessary."