The Latest: Cypriot religious leaders make joint pledge

The Latest on International Women's Day events (all times local):

6:15 a.m.

The leaders of Cyprus' Christian and Muslim faithful are pledging to work with authorities and help end violence against women and girls on the ethnically divided island.

The heads of Cyprus' Muslim, Orthodox, Armenian and Maronite Christian communities, issued a first-ever joint statement on International Women's Day Wednesday to condemn violence targeting women and girls.

Stating that Christianity and Islam condemn violence against women, the leaders said it is their religious duty to stand united against it. They also rejected the "misuse of religion to vindicate" violence against women and girls.

They expressed concern that violence continues to be "one of the most pervasive manifestations of discrimination" against women in Cyprus.

Researchers said almost one in three women have experienced some form of violence since the age of 15.


5:40 a.m.

Some 200 women gathered for a march to mark International Women's Day in Tokyo, protesting against low wages, long hours and other obstacles that make their lives difficult.

Participants, many of them members of women's groups and labor unions, chanted "It's hard to be a woman, and our patience is running out!" and held up placards and banners saying "Let's change our future!"

Japan lags behind most other industrial countries in women's participation and advancement in business, academics and politics. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "womenomics" policy aims to put more women to work to counter a chronically low birth rate and shrinking work force, but a business culture in which long hours are routine makes it more difficult for women to get ahead.


4:50 a.m.

The president of the European Parliament has used the occasion of International Women's Day to promise that a Polish lawmaker will be punished for the crude, sexist comments he made last week.

EU parliament President Antonio Tajani said that he intends to bring a "swift conclusion" to the probe into the remarks of Janusz Korwin-Mikke at the legislature and promised "a penalty commensurate with the gravity of the offence."

Korwin-Mikke, a radical right-winger who leads a marginal party, said during a debate on the pay gap between men and women: "Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less, that's all."

He could face sanctions such as a reprimand, a fine or a temporary suspension.


4:40 a.m.

Denmark's minister for gender equality, Karen Ellemann, is focusing on paternity leave on International Women's Day, saying equality between the sexes "also means equal opportunities to be a parent."

Ellemann spoke Wednesday when visiting Danish companies "to learn more about what makes fathers choose as they do."

According to official figures, Danish men in 2014 took on average 29.5 days' paternity leave, or 11 days more than they did in 2003.

In Denmark, parents have the right to a total of 52 weeks' leave with maternity subsistence allowance. The mother is entitled to four weeks' maternity leave prior to giving birth and 14 weeks after; the father is entitled to two weeks' leave after the birth; and the remaining time can be divided according to individual wishes.


4:30 a.m.

Scores of women working in the childcare industry in Australia have walked off the job early on International Women's Day to protest what they deem inadequate pay rates.

The United Voice union, which represents the workers, said more than 1,000 staffers at childcare centers in every state and territory in Australia stopped working at 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday to call attention to wage disparities felt throughout an industry where the vast majority of workers are women.

"3:20 represents the time that Australian women ostensibly start working for free in comparison to men if you take into account the gender pay gap," said Helen Gibbons, the union's assistant national secretary.

"We know that this has traditionally been seen as women's work," Gibbons said. "It's 2017 and this is not OK to continue. The people who work in this sector demand equal pay."


2 a.m.

Organizers of January's Women's March have called for women to take the day off and encouraged them not to spend money to show their economic strength and impact on American society.

"A Day Without a Woman" on Wednesday is the first major action by organizers since the nationwide marches held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration that drew millions of women into the streets in protest against misogyny, inequality and oppression. Though it is unclear how many women could participate, thousands across the country have signaled their support and interest online and to employers.

The event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women's Day, and organizers say they want to "stand with women around the globe" who supported their efforts Jan. 21 with similar protests in cities around the world.