Women Protest In Iceland

On Tuesday, October 24, tens of thousands of women in Iceland took part in a general strike against the “salary difference between men and women,” or the so-called gender pay gap, and against violence. The protest was led by Prime Minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir. She said she wanted to “show solidarity with Icelandic women.”

The one-day strike disrupted both paid and unpaid work, including domestic and family care work that often falls on women. The protest was the first of its kind in number of participants. Protests took place in the capital, Reykjavik, and in a dozen of other large cities in Iceland. The events were preceded by another major political action involving more than 30 parties and public organizations.

Regarding the pay gap between men and women, Iceland has a 2017 law that requires companies and businesses to certify that men and women are paid the same for doing the same job. Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum’s gender pay gap study, which analyzed the situation in more than a hundred countries, Iceland has always been the country “closest to achieving gender equality” over the past 14 years. However, organizers of the Icelandic women’s strike noted that in some professions the pay gap between men and women is still as high as 21 percent.

The discussion of economic discrimination is linked to the discussion of violence against women. Drifa Snaedal, one of the organizers of the women’s protest, told the Guardian newspaper that “violence against women and low-paid work are two sides of the same coin, they influence each other.”

The last general women’s strike in Iceland took place in 1975 and lasted a whole day.