History

Women in Iceland have walked out of their jobs five times in the last 43 years to protest the gender pay gap.

Kvennafrí 1975. Photo: Ari Kárason / Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur

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 protested on 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, in 2018, gender pay gap adjusted for working hours is now 16% in Iceland, but the gender income gap is much higher. The average wages of women in Iceland are only 74%% of the average wages of men. Therefore, women have earned their wages after only 5 hours and 55 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 2:55 p.m.

We have gained only 47 minutes in thirteen years. If progress continues at the same pace, we will need to wait another 29 years before women in Iceland have the same wages on average as men, in the year 2047!

More information about the women’s day off protests in Iceland is available in English at the Women’s History Museum of Iceland.