"I lived under the dictatorship, I lived under democracy and we haven't made much headway"
MADRID, March 8 (Reuters) - Women across Spain went on strike and held street protests against gender inequality on Thursday, including midnight pot-banging rallies, bike demos and demonstrations under the rain in city squares.
Authorities did not say how many participated in Spain's first-ever women nationwide strike held on International Women's Day, but the country's two largest unions said more than 5 million women took part.
"I lived under the dictatorship, I lived under democracy and we haven't made much headway. A lot remains to be done and we, in the education sector, have a big role to play," said 50-year-old teacher Concha Noverges on a picket line at a public school in Madrid.
Hundreds had kicked off the action in the capital with a pot banging protest at midnight on the Puerta del Sol central square.
Spain ranked 27th in a list of 188 countries in the United Nations' latest Gender Inequality Index. However, Spanish women's access to the labour market remains well below the European average because the lack of state support and because Spanish "macho" culture often pushes them to leave their jobs to care for their children or ageing parents.
Several more protests were held in Madrid and Barcelona throughout the day and rallies were also due to take place on Thursday night in Spain's main cities.
In Bilbao in northern Spain thousands of women gathered near the city's famous Guggenheim museum, holding signs with slogans such as "Justice!", "Fight like a girl" and "Revolution."
(Reporting by Blanca Rodriguez ; Writing by Jesús Aguado Editing by Julien Toyer and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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