Welby 'painfully aware' of gender inequality as thousands protest on international women's day

The archbishop of Canterbury has said he is 'painfully aware' of the need for equality between the sexes as the world marks international women's day on March 8.

The prime minister suggested domestic abuse suspects could face electronic tagging to prevent them contacting victims in a consultation launched to mark the day. The domestic abuse bill will for the first to provide a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes economic abuse, alongside other non-physical abuse.

International Women's Day was marked around the world. In South Korea women marched during a protest as a part of the #MeToo movement in Seoul.Reuters

Writing in the Guardian Theresa May said two million women live with domestic abuse every day and while prosecutions had increased they were not nearly high enough.

'Thousands of women endure unimaginable violence and other forms of abuse every single day, often at the hands of those to whom they are closest, in the places they should be safest,' she wrote. 'I have heard many heart-rending stories, and I am determined to stop others suffering.'

Justin Welby urged followers to 'pray and work together for progress' as women around the world took to the streets to demand full equality.

'Also in my prayers today are women on the front line in areas of conflict and distress. Women who are peacemakers and reconcilers, holding communities together when they start to fall apart. Lord Jesus strengthen and protect them,' he added.

Figures from the TUC suggest that women in the UK effectively work more than two months for free because of the country's gender pay gap.

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggest that when all full and part time workers are included, the national pay gap is 18.4 per cent.

'This ... means that women effectively work for free for the first 67 days of the year,' the TUC said in a report published to coincide with international women's day. The trade union body called on the government to require employers to carry out pay audits and produce action plans to close the gap in their workplace.

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. Large companies have to report information about this by April 4.