A large crowd of women flocked to downtown Reykjavík for the Women’s Day Off protest. The women left work at 2.55pm today to protest gender income inequality. This year’s event bears the slogan “Don’t change women, change the world.”
This is the fifth time that women in Iceland have staged a mass walkout in protest of the gender pay gap since the first time the Kvennafrí, or “Women’s Day Off,” protest was held in 1975. The walkout takes place at the exact time at which women have earned their wages compared to their male counterparts. Women are paid 26% less than men, on average, and the walkout therefore takes place at 2.55pm. Previous walkouts took place in 1985, 2005, 2010, and 2016.
In 2005, this meant that women left their jobs at 2.08pm. Five years later, they left at 2.25pm. In 2016, they left at 2.38pm. According to the Kvennafrí website, the gender pay gap adjusted for working hours is at 16%, but the income gap is still quite high: on average, women in Iceland earn 74% of the wages of their male counterparts. “We have gained only 47 minutes in 13 years,” reads the website. “If progress continues at the same pace, we will need to wait another 29 years before women in Iceland have the same wages on average as men, in the year 2047!”
Today’s festivities at Arnarhóll included speeches by former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, chairman of Efling union, lawyer Claudie Wilson, and Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir. Performing artists included women’s choirs Vox feminae and Katla, Léttsveit Reykjavíkur, and Múltíkúlti as well as rap group Reykjavíkurdætur. A mini play by Yrsa Þöll Gylfadóttir was also presented. Actresses Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir and Saga Garðarsdóttir hosted the event.