Iraqi women holding roses and national flags take part in a rally in Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province, during the International Women's Day on Sunday. AFP
In China — the epicentre of the epidemic that has killed more than 3,500 people and infected over 100,000 worldwide — state broadcaster CCTV highlighted the work of female medical workers on the frontlines in the fight against the virus.
Despite growing fears over the worsening epidemic, marches went ahead in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines while women also allied in Pakistan demanding "freedom."
A women's marathon planned in India was postponed over virus concerns as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said prominent women would run his social media accounts for the day.
Demonstrators attend the "March4Women" during the International Women's Day in London on Sunday. AFP
France saw a clutch of virus deaths take its virus toll to 16 on Saturday but Paris hosted several rallies — one of which saw violence which organisers blamed on police.
A rally in Kyrgyzstan also turned violent as police detained dozens of protesters — mainly women — after masked men attacked them and tore up their placards in the capital Bishkek. A police spokesman said they were detained for their own safety and because police had not been warned about the rally.
In South Korea, where more than 7,000 virus infections make it the hardest hit country outside China, several events were cancelled.
"Although we can't be physically together, our minds for realising gender equality are stronger than ever," the country's gender equality minister Lee Jung-Ok said in a video message.
A participant crosses the finish line with a tulip in his hand at the end of the 400m running event held on the International Women's day in Moscow. AFP
Many feminist groups held online campaigns instead of street marches, using hashtags such as #FemaleStrike, #PowerUp and #38InternationalwomensDay to raise awareness of gender inequality.
In Bangkok, protesters called for improved labour protections amid the epidemic that has infected dozens in Thailand, and greater rights under a military-aligned government.
Organisers blamed virus fears for the fact that the turnout was lower than last year.
Hundreds of women and men rallied in the Philippine capital Manila, burning a giant effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte — who they accuse of misogyny — to mark the day.
"The violence and poverty among women are getting worse," Joms Salvador of women's group Gabriela told AFP.
"While we have 37 laws related to women's rights, on the ground what is happening is a widespread violence in the forms of domestic abuse, sexual harassment and rape," he said.
A big crowd turned out in Melbourne to watch the women's Twenty20 World Cup final between India and Australia. US singer Katy Perry, wearing an outfit emblazoned with the female symbol, performed her hit single "Roar" ahead of the game. Rallies were smaller than usual in virus-hit Europe.
On Sunday, topless Feman activists, wearing protective glasses and masks, gathered at Place de la Concorde in Paris to denounce "the patriarchal pandemic," despite the best efforts of police to control them.
"Who's doing the washing up?" they chanted. "We are making a revolution."
But rights groups and politicians denounced what they said was police violence at a women's march in Paris the night before, after scuffles broke out and police arrested nine people.
Paris mayor Paris Anne Hidalgo, currently seeking re-election, said she was shocked at the "unacceptable and incomprehensible" violence and expressed her solidarity with the demonstrators.
Some women tweeted pictures of marchers left battered and bruised, prompting Europe Ecology-The Greens party secretary Julien Bayou to blast what he termed "absolutely unjustifiable police violence."Elsewhere, women also turned out in force in Iraq and Lebanon, while Mexico, which has long battled deep-rooted gender violence, was to stage rallies, notably in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Back in Europe, Italian President Sergio Mattarella recorded a video message with much of the country in coronavirus lockdown, regretting the need to avoid large-scale gatherings.
Instead, he elected to "express a grateful thought to the women — and there are many — who are working in hospitals... in the red (quarantine) zones to fight the spread of the virus that worries us today."
The prejudiced views include: that men are better politicians and business leaders than women; that going to university is more important for men than women; and that men should get preferential treatment in competitive job markets.
The benefits of gender equality are not just for women and girls, but "for everyone whose lives will be changed by a fairer world", UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
The Abu Dhabi Pension Fund pointed out that the labour market in Abu Dhabi witnessed the appointment of 1,151 women between January and July 2020, which constitutes 55 per cent of those employed during the same period.
“I feel proud of my work at Dubai Police, which has a great reputation worldwide and has made high level police achievements. Dubai Police is a dream and destination for many young people seeking excellence, creativity and innovation..."
Saudi Arabia last week halted flights from seven southern African countries, mirroring similar moves by other government, but travel links with North Africa have remained unaffected.
The decision, entitled "The World Together", was adopted by consensus at a special assembly of the 194 nations that are members of the UN health body, drawing applause at the end of a three-day meeting.
An overloaded boat carrying 42 passengers, mostly children aged eight to 15, capsized late on Tuesday in northwest Nigeria's Kano state, a rescue agency spokesman said.