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Rallies, Celebrations Mark International Women's Day

People around the world have observed International Women's Day with rallies, speeches and public ceremonies to call attention to women's issues and appeal for change.

At a ceremony in Afghanistan Saturday, President Hamid Karzai told a crowd of hundreds of women that they should be free to pursue their education. He called on men and religious leaders to stop forcing young girls into marriage - especially to men several decades older - and to allow them an education.

In the Philippines, hundreds of female protesters marked the day with a rally to demand the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo over a corruption scandal. The women marched to the presidential palace in the capital, Manila Saturday, chanting anti-Arroyo slogans and burning an effigy of Ms. Arroyo.

Women also celebrated the day with ceremonies in Russia and Iraq.

Celebrated on March 8, International Women's Day is the global day recognizing all women around the world and intended to inspire them to achieve their full potential. In many countries it is an official holiday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.