Icelandic women cut working day to protest wage gap


Iceland might be rated as one of the best countries in the world in terms of women’s rights, but some disparities continue. To protest this, thousands of Icelandic women left work Monday at 2:38pm. The timing was no coincidence: if you paid men and women the same hourly wage, women would work considerably shorter days because their yearly salaries are so much less than their male counterparts.

Many of these women gathered in front of the parliament in Reykjavik, where they took part in the Icelandic "Viking" clapping ritual made famous by the Euro 2016 football championship.

In Iceland, women are paid on average 18% less than a man with the same experience working the same job, according to the European Union. This number is actually higher than the average European wage gap of 16.2%. On Monday, women decided to underscore this disparity by working 18% less of a normal 8-hour day than their male colleagues.

The date of the protest, October 24, is also symbolic. On October 24, 1975, Icelandic women organised their very first protest against the wage gap. In 1975, they left work at 2:05pm. Since then, the women have made it a tradition. In 2005, women left work at 2:08pm. In 2010, they left at 2:25pm.

The salaries of Icelandic women are slowly increasing. However, the key word is slowly: at this rate, women won’t be earning the same salaries as their male counterparts until 2068.

“No one puts up with waiting 50 years to reach a goal,” Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, president of ASÍ, the Icelandic Confederation of Labor, told local media RÚV. “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.”

Judging by her response, it looks like there will be a few more protests in the future.