Women are encouraged to leave their place of work at 2:38 pm today, 24 October, a day known in Iceland as Women´s Day Off [Kvennafrídagurinn]
There will be a gathering of women on Austurvöllur, where a program of speeches and music begins at 3:15 pm. The purpose is to protest the gender pay gap in Iceland. The precise timing is calculated, once the clock strikes 2:38 pm, compared to men’s earnings, women work without pay after that hour every day.
The plight for equal pay in Iceland in 2016 isn’t over, despite Iceland often being hailed as the country of equal rights, having elected the first female president and a female prime minister. If the progress of closing the gender gap in continues on its slow pace, as has in the past decade, it could take about 52 years to eliminate the gender pay gap in the country. Today, at Austurvollur the demand is clear; “equal pay now”.
Today, 41 years after women went on such a strike for the first time on October 24, 1975, when thousands of women left their place of work and gathered in downtown Reykjavik to cast a light on their contribution in the work force, there still is cause to protest. On October 24, 2005, Women’s Day Off was celebrated for the second time, RÚV reports. That day, women walked out the minute they were working for free compared to men, or at 2:08 pm. In 2008, they walked out at 2:25. In eleven years, less than three minutes have been gained in narrowing the gender pay gap. Thus, if the same trend continues, women and men will enjoy equal pay in 2068. It has been illegal in Iceland to discriminate based on gender for sixty years, why the gap isn’t closed already is unclear, but the women will gather today to raise awareness yet again.