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Icelandic women encouraged to stop working

The organizers of the Woman’s Day Celebration, held to mark the occasion that 30 years have passed since women in Iceland walked out from their workplaces to take the day off, are encouraging women to stop working on October 24th.

Women are encouraged to stop working at 2:08 p.m. on October 24.

Icelandic women earn 64.15% of what men earn, therefore at 2:08 pm will have worked 64.15% of a normal 9-5 working day.

The Icelandic women will march the streets of Reykjavík under the slogan “Women, let’s be loud”. Women are encouraged to bring kitchen utensils to the march, including pots and iron spoons, to make noise. The idea behind the march is that women have been quiet long enough, and it’s now time for them to make some noise – “demand equality now”.

The goal of this year’s Woman’s Day is the same as it was 30 years ago, show the value of the contribution of women to for the Icelandic economy. According to the web site Visir, nowhere in the world do women participate in the economy as much as in Iceland.

Visir reports that the first Woman’s Day was held on the anniversary of the United Nations, on October 24, 1975. On that day, 25,000 Icelandic women walked out of their workplaces and gathered on Lækjartorg in downtown Reykjavík. The economy ground to a halt, and the event made headlines worldwide.

In an interview in the latest edition of Iceland Review former president of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, says that the Woman’s Day in 1975 prompted her to seek election. An excerpt of the interview follows:

Krista Mahr: What was it about Iceland in 1980 that led to your being elected as the world’s first female head of state?

Vigdis Finnbogadóttir: It was first and foremost the Woman’s Day Off in 1975. The women of Iceland took the day off. They didn’t go on a strike, but asked their bosses for permission to take the day off, and met and gathered throughout the villages throughout the country. They wanted to prove that women are pillars of society. The production of the country was paralyzed of course. The factories closed, the banks closed. Most of society came to a standstill. It proved that women are as much part of society as men.

Krista Mahr: What did you do that day?

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir: I was director of the City Theater. We were having a very important rehearsal, and the actresses and the ladies in the box office came and knocked on my door. They said, “Do you think we can go there to the meeting in the center of Reykjavík?” And I said, very dramatically, “You have to make up you minds about that yourselves.”

And then I had an artistic pause, and said “But I am going.”

Five years later, the President of the Republic announced that he was not going to continue, and there would be elections.Suddenly, everybody was talking. Let’s ask her.

The interview with Vigdís can be read in the latest issue of Iceland Review.

The organizers of the Woman’s Day Off in Iceland include: the Feminist Association of Iceland, the Women’s Association of Iceland, the Women’s Church, the Women’s Rights Organization, the Women’s History Archive, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Iceland, Safe Shelter- for women and children, and Stígamót, the Icelandic Counseling and Information Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence.

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