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From Boardroom to Butcher Shop, Women Discuss Gender Inequality


Yolaina Chavez Talavera, 31, a firefighter, poses for a photograph in front of a truck at a fire station in Managua, Nicaragua, Feb. 22, 2017. "In my early days as a female firefighter, men, my teammates, thought that I would not last long in the organization due to the hard training," she said. "However, in practice I showed them that I am able to take on tasks at the same level as men. I think women must fight to break through in all areas, in the midst of the machismo that still persists in Nicaragua and in Hispanic countries."

Wednesday March 8 marks International Women's Day, with festivals, concerts and exhibitions among the numerous events planned around the world to celebrate the achievements of women in society.

The annual event has been held since the early 1900s and traditionally promotes a different theme each year, with this year's edition calling on people to #BeBoldForChange and push for a more gender-inclusive working world.

Reuters photographers have been speaking with women in a range of professions around the world about their experiences of gender inequality.

Here are just a few of the women and their comments:

Doris Leuthard, Switzerland

Swiss President and Minister of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Doris Leuthard, 54, poses for a photograph on top of a roof next the Swiss Parliament in Bern, Switzerland, Feb. 24, 2017.
Swiss President and Minister of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Doris Leuthard, 54, poses for a photograph on top of a roof next the Swiss Parliament in Bern, Switzerland, Feb. 24, 2017.

Doris Leuthard says she still sees gender inequality occur in the workplace.

"Salaries. The differences between wages of men and women can be up to 20 percent. It happens to many women. Transparency helps, discussions about salaries are important. In upper management and leading positions in politics we still seem to be the minority. I encourage women to work on their career," she said.

Cristina Alvarez, Mexico

Cristina Alvarez, 29, a butcher, poses for a photograph while standing outside her and her husband's butcher shop, in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 25, 2017.
Cristina Alvarez, 29, a butcher, poses for a photograph while standing outside her and her husband's butcher shop, in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 25, 2017.

"I've never felt any gender inequality," Alvarez said.

"I believe women can do the same jobs as men and that there should be no discrimination."

Serpil Cigdem, Turkey

Serpil Cigdem, 44, an engine driver, poses for a photograph at Yenikapi station in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 24, 2017.
Serpil Cigdem, 44, an engine driver, poses for a photograph at Yenikapi station in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 24, 2017.

"When I applied for a job 23 years ago as an engine driver, I was told that it is a profession for men. I knew that during the written examination even if I got the same results with a male candidate, he would have been chosen. That's why I worked hard to pass the exam with a very good result ahead of the male candidates," Cigdem said.

"In my opinion, gender inequality starts in our minds saying it's a male profession or it's a man's job," she said.

Phung Thi Hai, Vietnam

Phung Thi Hai, 54, carries bricks at a factory outside Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27, 2017.
Phung Thi Hai, 54, carries bricks at a factory outside Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27, 2017.

Hai is among a group of 25 women working at a brick factory where she has to move 3,000 bricks a day to the kiln.

"How unfair that a 54-year-old woman like me has to work and take care of the whole family. With the same work male laborers can get a better income. Not only me, all women in the village work very hard with no education, no insurance and no future," she said.

Tomoe Ichino, Japan

Shinto priest Tomoe Ichino, 40, poses for a photograph at the Imado Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 22, 2017.
Shinto priest Tomoe Ichino, 40, poses for a photograph at the Imado Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 22, 2017.

"In general, people think being a Shinto priest is a man's profession. If you're a woman, they think you're a shrine maiden, or a supplementary priestess. People don't know women Shinto priests exist, so they think we can't perform rituals. Once, after I finished performing jiichinsai [ground-breaking ceremony], I was asked, 'So, when is the priest coming?,'" Ichino said.

"When I first began working as a Shinto priest, because I was young and female, some people felt the blessing was different. They thought: 'I would have preferred your grandfather.'"

"At first, I wore my grandfather's light green garment because I thought it's better to look like a man. But after a while I decided to be proud of the fact that I am a female priest and I began wearing a pink robe, like today. I thought I can be more confident if I stop thinking too much [about my gender]."

Yanis Reina, Venezuela

Yanis Reina, 30, a gas station attendant, poses for a photograph at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 24, 2017.
Yanis Reina, 30, a gas station attendant, poses for a photograph at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 24, 2017.

"No doubt this is a job initially intended for men, because you have to be standing on the street all your shift, it is dirty, greasy and there is always a strong gasoline smell. I have to adapt the pants of my uniform because they are men's and make me look weird but I adore my work. My clients are like my relatives, they come here everyday and we chat a couple of minutes while the tank is being filled. They come every day because they feel safer to be served by a woman," Reina said.

"With the difficult situation that we have in Venezuela, having a job that covers your expenses is almost a luxury, but beyond that, I'm very proud of my job. I believe that now we, the women, have to be the warriors," she said.

Januka Shrestha, Nepal

Januka Shrestha, 25, a Tuk Tuk driver, poses for a picture in Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 26, 2017.
Januka Shrestha, 25, a Tuk Tuk driver, poses for a picture in Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 26, 2017.

"There is no difference in a vehicle driven by a woman and man. While driving on the road people sometimes try to dominate a vehicle especially when they see a woman driving it," she said.

"People have even used foul language toward me. When this happens I keep quiet and work even harder to prove that we are as capable as men," Shrestha said.

Maxine Mallett, Britain

Maxine Mallett, 52, a headteacher at Rutherford House School, poses for a photograph at the school's playground in south London, Britain, Feb. 22, 2017.
Maxine Mallett, 52, a headteacher at Rutherford House School, poses for a photograph at the school's playground in south London, Britain, Feb. 22, 2017.

"The most stressful time of my career was when I had children. Women who return to work after having a child are sometimes treated with suspicion, as if they now lack commitment to the school when it is quite the opposite," Mallett said.

"We need to remove barriers and support all. Having a fulfilling career should not have to be a battle that you have to constantly fight."

Jeung Un, South Korea

Jeung Un, 27, a freelance photographer, poses for a portrait at a site which protesters have occupied, in central Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 23, 2017.
Jeung Un, 27, a freelance photographer, poses for a portrait at a site which protesters have occupied, in central Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 23, 2017.

"Most news outlets prefer to employ male photographers. I feel strongly about gender inequality," Un said.

"When I cover violent scenes, sometimes I am harassed and hear sexually-biased remarks."

Deng Qiyan, China

Deng Qiyan, 47, a mother of three and a decoration worker at contraction sites, poses for a photograph at an apartment building under construction in Beijing, China, Feb. 22, 2017.
Deng Qiyan, 47, a mother of three and a decoration worker at contraction sites, poses for a photograph at an apartment building under construction in Beijing, China, Feb. 22, 2017.

"Sometimes [gender inequality] happens," Qiyan said.

"But we cannot do anything about that. After all, you have to digest all those unhappy things and carry on."

Emilie Jeannin, France

Emilie Jeannin, 37, a cow breeder, poses for a photograph with her Charolais cows in Beurizot, France, Feb. 21, 2017.
Emilie Jeannin, 37, a cow breeder, poses for a photograph with her Charolais cows in Beurizot, France, Feb. 21, 2017.

"Once I could not help laughing when an agricultural advisor asked me, where the boss was, when I was standing right in front of him. I can assure you that the meeting got very quickly cut short!," Jeannin said.

"Being a breeder is seen as a man's job. In the past women were usually doing the administrative work or low level tasks. People need to be more open-minded. This change needs to happen everywhere not just on the fields."

Meet more of the women in our photo gallery:

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