Thousands of women across the world are marking International Women's Day, vowing to press for freedom and equal rights and an end to discrimination.

As many as 5,000 women marched in the eastern Pakistani city of Multan, while in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai called for an end to violence against women.

In France, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first woman president, began her visit by praising the role of women in economic development, which she said is often overlooked. She said she believes this will change as more women assume leadership roles in poor countries.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement for International Women's Day, saying the role of women in decision-making positions is central to their advancement and to the progress of humankind. But a U.N. report, issued Wednesday says that despite high-profile elections of female heads of states in several countries, women are still not making adequate progress.

The U.N. Fund for Women marked the day by calling on women decision-makers to form a global coalition to help poor women.

And in mostly Muslim Indonesia, hundreds of women marched in Jakarta against a proposed anti-pornography bill that would make it a crime to bare one's legs or shoulders in public.

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