Gender

In Iceland, Women Protest Wage Gap By Refusing to Work After 2:38 pm

According to women’s organisations and unions, a 14% to 18% wage discrepancy effectively means that women are working for free after 2:38 pm.

Women took to the streets in Iceland at 2:38 pm to protest wage discrepancies. Credit: Sharon Bush/Twitter

Women took to the streets in Iceland at 2:38 pm to protest wage discrepancies. Credit: Sharon Bush/Twitter

In the last few decades, Iceland has made significant advances in bridging the gender gap. Despite that, thousands of women took to the streets of Reykjavik, on October 24 after 2:38 pm, to protest the wage gap, the Independent reported. 

According to women’s organisations and unions, in a country where nearly 80% of the female population works, a 14% to 18% wage gap means that the women are actually working for free after 2:38 pm.

Iceland has been on top of the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index for the past six years, with a score of 0.881 for 2015. The road to gender equality wasn’t easy – on October 24, 1975, Iceland had seen a massive wave of professional and domestic strikes. The Guardian says that nearly 90% of Icelandic women had simply refused to work. Refraining from domestic work and even childcare, their point was well made: society would be paralysed without women’s labour. It was also an agitation for political representation – Iceland having seen only nine elected women representatives, ever. As a consequence of the 1975 agitation,Vigdis Finnbogadottir was elected as president five years later – the first woman president in the world.

A poster at the protest. Credit: Common Dreams/Twitter

A poster at the protest. Credit: Common Dreams/Twitter

Even with its tradition of women’s empowerment, Iceland’s wage discrepancy has been slow to close. At the current rate, it would take at least 52 years to be equal.

The president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labor, Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, has reportedly told the country’s official broadcaster, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a gender pay gap or any other pay gap. It’s just unacceptable to say we’ll correct this in 50 years. That’s a lifetime.”