Large Crowd Gathered at Women’s Day Off

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!”

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir left work today at 2.55pm and encouraged her female staff at the Prime Minister’s Office to do the same, mbl.is reports.

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.

Today is Women’s Day Off in Iceland

The Women’s Day Off protest in 2016 at Austurvöllur square.

Women in Iceland will leave work at 2.55pm today to protest gender income inequality, RÚV reports. It is the sixth such event in Iceland since 1975, and is also intended to protest violence and harassment in the workplace. The slogan for this year’s event is “Don’t change women, change the world.”

“According to the newest figures from Iceland Statistics, the average wages of women in Iceland are only 74% of the average wages of men,” the event website states. “Women are therefore paid 26% less of average than men. Therefore, women have earned their wages after only 5 hours and 55 minutes, in an average workday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Women stop being paid for their work at 2:55 p.m.”

Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir, chairperson of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, says today’s protestis a fight against ignorance, violence, and woman-hating. “This is a battle against violence, against all workplace harassment, against all harassment of women and others,” she stated, adding that the #metoo movement has brought to light the fact that most women who speak out against gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace do not receive justice.

The protest will take place at Arnarhóll in downtown Reykjavík. Travellers are advised that road closures will be in effect in the area.

“Don’t Change Women, Change the World”

pay gap iceland

Women in Iceland are organising to walk out of their jobs at 2.55pm on Wednesday, October 24, Mbl.isreports. 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. Previous walkouts took place in 1985, 2005, 2010, and 2016. “We urge women to walk out,” remarked event project manager Maríanna Clara Lúthersdóttir. “Not just for themselves, but for all other women in Iceland.”

In recent years, the walkouts have taken place at the exact time at which women have earned their wages when compared to their male counterparts. 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!”

While the gender pay gap is still a primary contention for organisers, this year’s Women’s Day Off is expanding its points of focus to include workplace violence and harassment. “It’s all about workplaces and workplace issues,” said Maríanna Clara. “…We’re speaking out about human rights and [working] conditions in a broad sense.”

This year’s event is not only aiming to expand into rural areas across the country, but also to emphasise the importance of supporting immigrant women in Iceland who, per the website, “…in many cases lack the support networks native-born women have and are therefore especially vulnerable to violations of rights at the workplace and violence.” As part of this effort, website resources and materials were translated by volunteers into fourteen languages, including full version translations into English and Polish, and partial translations into Albanian, Chinese, Czech, French, Greek, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.

Maríanna Clara says that Kvennafrí has attracted the attention of organisers in other countries as well. “Women in Norway have been in touch with us, as have women in Poland, Italy, and Germany. We decided, since there was a call for it, to have a slogan in English, too: ‘Don’t Change Women, Change the World.’”