Woman protestor. (Flickr)

Working women in Iceland staged a walkout at exactly 2.38 p.m.  on Monday to protest against the gender pay gap.

The timing of the walkout is significant as that is exactly how much they are paid for.  Beyond that women are essentially working for free if the numbers are computed. Iceland is one of the better places in terms of wage gap between genders. Women are paid around 14 to 18 percent  lesser than their male counterparts on an average.

In the capital city of  Reykjavik, thousands of women gathered in the central square of  Austurvöllur. reported Grapevine, an English language newspaper of Iceland. There is a history of such protests in Iceland. A first such strike took place in 1975 when women including housewives staged a protest by taking the day off. It is believed nearly 90 percent of all women participated refusing to work, cook or look after the children, forcing men to chip in.

In 2005, women left work at 2.08pm — the minute they began working for free.

In 2008, it was 2.25pm.

This means that only 3 minutes have been gained in the push toward equality. If progress continues at the same rate, it will take 52 years to eliminate the disparity between men and women’s earnings in Iceland entirely.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2016 says that it could take 83 years for the gender gap in health,  pay, economics, politics and welfare to close, which means that women MAY manage to catch up with all the privileges men enjoy by 2100.

Taking a world view, women in  Iceland actually fare quite well in the workplace compared to female workers in many other parts of  the world.  A recent survey placed the wage gap in Iceland at only 14 per cent, whereas women elsewhere are earning nearly 20 to 32 percent lesser than their male counterparts. In the United Kingdom the wage gap is 20 percent and the EU average is 16.6 percent, which means women in Europe are essentially working for free everyday from October 19 until the end of the year.

A young woman interviewed by  Refinery29 said : “We know that no country in the world has reached gender equality, but today reminds me that not even the country that’s supposed to have the most equal rights pays women the same as men”.


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