86% Pay = 86% Day
On October 24, 2016, at exactly 2:38 pm, thousands of Icelandic women left their work offices for the day. With a gendered wage gap between men and women clocking in at around 14-18%, Icelandic women chose to use this day to “work the hours their pay merited.”1
In 1975, the women of Iceland were paid less than a dismal 60% of men’s earnings; so on October 24th, 90% of Icelandic women refused to work, cook, or clean in protest of the remarkably low wages.2
Shortly after, in 1980, Iceland elected its first female president, and “first democratically elected female head of state”, Vigdís Finnbogadottír. After this, Iceland became a world leader in gender equality.3
I only came across this story a few weeks ago when a friend shared a link on Facebook, and when I looked further, only a few other stories news sources had reported on the protests. However, very little follow-up and further detail was sparse as I researched this topic. Only days after the protests, the story was forgotten and the world kept preoccupied with the presidential election, probably followed by another of Mr. Trump’s vulgar and demeaning scandals. This story presents an important message: there is no equality utopia yet. Even countries as progressive as Iceland still face gender inequality; and until women and men are treated as equal citizens the world will not be able to progress.
- Image taken from Twitter, taken by Salka Sól Eyfeld. 24 Oct 2016.
- Image taken from Twitter, taken by Halldóra Mogensen. 24 Oct 2016.
- Image from the Women’s History Archives. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34602822
- From the exhibition, “Are You Ready, Madam President?” Images taken by Gunnar Elí 2 of 4. http://www.honnunarsafn.is/is/syning/ertu-tilb%C3%BAin-fr%C3%BA-forseti
- From the exhibition, “Are You Ready, Madam President?” Images taken by Gunnar Elí 3 of 4. http://www.honnunarsafn.is/is/syning/ertu-tilb%C3%BAin-fr%C3%BA-forseti
- Taken by Petur Asgeirsson. Posted on TruthDig. http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/once_upon_a_time_nearly_all_of_icelands_women_went_on_strike_20151027