Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir, summary of speech given at Kvennafrí 2018, Reykjavík

Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir, a campaigner against harassment in the workplace, began her speech by saying that it is easy to be angry on the internet, condemn others who are strangers. It is not so easy when those who wrong us are those who sit with us in the cafeteria at lunch time, or the manager of the company we work for. It is easy to put our names on petitions, to share generic messages with a hashtag, or like a social media post from a friend. It is hard to take action when we suffer discrimination in the real world, when we have to take real action in the real world.

The steps are heavy when we walk to our bosses and report for the first time that we have been harassed in our workplaces. The steps are even heavier when we walk to the second meeting, the third and the fourth. The reason we take those steps are always the same. My boss is rude and offensive. He offends me many times a week. The desperation when the human resource manager tells me to „just talk with him and work it out.“

„I dare, I can and I will,“ my mother and grandmother sang together in 1975, the year I was born, and they are among my many role models, strong women who have inspired me. It is unacceptable that now, 43 years later, women are still living in the shadow of opression and discrimination, that women are still not believed.

Women, let‘s stop trying to adapt. Our workplaces are our spaces, not only men‘s spaces. This is our society and let‘s make it better NOW. Together we will change the world, one step at a time. I dare, I can, I will.

Claudie Wilson, summary of speech given at Kvennafrí 2018, Reykjavík

Claudie Wilson, a lawyer who immigrated to Iceland from Jamaica 17 years ago, looked back towards the women’s strike of 1975, saying that we are continuing the fight that women before us started. In 1975, women in Iceland marched under the banner of “Equality, progress, peace”. Now we march under the banner of “Don’t change women, change the world.”

The courage, faith and strength of women in Iceland remains strong. When I moved to Iceland, immigrants were only 3% of society, now we are 12%. With a more diverse society, we face new challenges, and immigrant women are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with our native born sisters to fight for the society we want, for ourselves and for our sons and daughters.

We have come far in fighting for equality. For the last nine years, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, and this achievement is not a coincidence. Behind these victories are the heroic women who refused to accept to live in a man’s world. Many heroes have stepped forward in the #MeToo movement, both native born and immigrants. The stories shared have shown us that no woman is safe from injustice. Immigrant women, especially, have been discriminated against in the workplace, they have suffered extreme cases of violence in the workplace, have been victims of trafficking, have faced racism and xenophobia.

Brave women, our challenges because of the diversity of our population are manifold. Our goals, however, are still the same: All of us want a society that respects us and our contributions. We stand together and will not stop until we are satisfied that equality has been reached in Iceland, for everyone. Together, we will eliminate gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination. Together we will change the world.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, summary of speech given at Kvennafrí 2018, Reykjavík

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the former prime minister of Iceland, declared that today we are calling for a revolution, a fight for women‘s rights. There is backlash against women‘s rights all over the world. Iceland is commonly recognized as being the most gender equal country in the world, but this says less about how good things are here and more about how bad things are for women in the rest of the world.

Women in Iceland work for free for two hours of the working day After more than 100 years of fighting for equal pay, the gender paygap in Iceland was 16,1% in 2016. Recent news reports have shown us that immigrants, women and men, face horrific conditions and wage-theft. This is an ugly stain on Icelandic society which we must eradicate.

Pay discrimination is wage-theft. Stealing from often poor women who can‘t make ends meet to feed their children. We should not stand for this. Shame on those who steal in this manner!

Women‘s participation in the labor market is the highest in the world here in Iceland. Women maintain economic growth at the same time they are grossly undervalued in pay. We need to immediately reevaluate women‘s work in Iceland.We need to fight for a shorter workweek and fair pay for all.

Women‘s solidarity is crucial to changing society, as we are showing here today. Remember that men have not always done a good job running the world. We should give women a chance. Let‘s fight for a shorter workweek, free school lunches, and affordable daycare guaranteed immediately after a twelve month parental leave.

Come on, women! We have a job to do. Let‘s not stop until women‘s contributions is evaluated fairly and the labor market is changed to suit women‘s needs. Let‘s change society. We can change the world, if only we

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, summary of speech given at Kvennafrí 2018, Reykjavík

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the president of Efling labor union, began her speech celebrating the action that women take today, to strike to highlight the importance of women‘s work. It is a scandal that women are still considered to be worth less than men in the workplace. Women who came before us recognized the oppression and began fighting for women‘s liberation. We owe them a historic debt.

We must face the fact that women are still being systematically oppressed, we suffer violence, our work devalued, our knowledge scorned. We live in a capitalistic society where the female body is objectified, a society where women are shamed.

Women are not for sale! We are proud of our imporance and we demand that we be paid fairly for our work. Don‘t change women, change society. We demand fair wages for our hard woman‘s labor. We won‘t have justice until society finds a way to fairly redistribute wealth, so that we women who work in low paying jobs receive a natural and equal share of the wealth that we create with our contribution.

We will be organized and agressive. We have been economically and politically marginalized, but now we are going to claim political space and economic power! We have not been treated fairly, but instead of giving up, we are rising up.

The time has come that working women receive what they deserve. The time has come that we fight against the theft of women‘s work and women‘s power. The time has come for our needs, our wants, our demands. We will live free from oppression: sexual oppression, gender oppression and economic oppression. We have nothing to lose and our freedom to gain.
Long live women‘s liberation, long live solidarity, long live the struggle!