Women in Iceland have walked out of work to dispute the gender pay gap


An article from the World Economic Forum

Imagine if you worked a full day but stopped being paid at 2.55pm.

That’s the fate of women in Iceland, according to a protest group that organized rallies  across the country this week [October 21-27], demanding equal pay and rights and declaring “Don’t Change Women, Change the World!”

The sitting Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir, joined the demonstration, according to the Bloomberg News Service.

While the protestors at ‘Kvennafrí 2018’, Women’s Strike, acknowledge that Iceland has made progress – it has the smallest overall gender gap of 144 countries ranked  by the World Economic Forum and has enacted the world’s first equal pay  law – they say they want faster and more meaningful progress.

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Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Demonstrations were held in 16 towns and cities and the largest was in Reykjavík, where female musicians, poets, actresses and a 230-strong choir performed.

“Pay discrimination is wage-theft,” Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, former Prime Minister of Iceland told the rally

Finding a voice

Social media is creating a wave of protest where women are speaking out, repeating #MeToo and telling the world that they have had enough.

That underscores the themes in the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017, which estimated it will take another 100 years  to achieve gender parity at the current rate of change and 217 years to close the economic gender gap. The 2018 report is due for publication in December.

Such themes have also been highlighted on social media via campaigns including #TimesUp  and #MeToo and the Forum’s ongoing work shows how addressing these issues is more than an ethical or moral concern.

“Gender parity is also fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive,” the report said. “A variety of models and empirical studies have suggested that improving gender parity may result in significant economic dividends.”

Iceland has the smallest gender gap, according to the Forum’s report, which focuses on four areas: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. The nation has topped the rankings for the past nine years, reflecting a strong political and cultural will to change.