The Gender Pay Gap in Iceland and Women’s Day Off
The gender pay gap adjusted for working hours is now 16% in Iceland, but the unadjusted gender pay gap is much higher. The average wages of women in Iceland are only 72.5%% of the average wages of men.
One of the main reasons women work fewer hours in Iceland than men, is that women are performing unpaid labor in the home and for the family. We at the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association (IWRA) believe that we need to look to the larger unadjusted figure to measure the gender pay gap, not the lower figure adjusted for working hours.
Women in Iceland have walked out of their jobs five times in the last 42 years to protest the gender pay gap. On October 24th, 1975, women all over Iceland left work to demonstrate the importance of women’s contribution to society. This day was popularly called “kvennafrí”, or Women’s Day Off. In 1985, 25,000 women left their work again, to protest income inequality. In 2005, we celebrated Women‘s Day Off for the third time and tens of thousands of women left work the minute they stopped getting paid, at 2:08 p.m. In 2010 women in Iceland again left work, this time at 2:25 p.m. And in 2016, women left work at 2:38.
Today, the average wages of women in Iceland are only 72.5% of the average wages of men. Therefore, women have earned their wages after only 5 hours and 48 minutes, in an average workday of 8 hours. This means that, if the workday begins at 9 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m, women stop being paid for their work at 2:48 p.m.
We have gained only 40 minutes in twelve years. If progress continues at the same pace, we will need to wait another 35 years before women in Iceland have the same wages on average as men, in the year 2052!
The demonstrations on October 24, 2016 were called by the women’s movement and the labor movement in Iceland: