A massive strike by women and non-binary people against violence and the gender pay gap has begun in Iceland.
The strikers will stop working for one day – both paid and unpaid, including household chores – “to demonstrate the importance of their contribution to society.” The head of the country’s government, Katrin Jakobsdottir, is also taking part in the strike.
The protest is taking place under the slogan “Do you call this equality?” Iceland has been leading the ranking of countries for gender equality for 14 years in a row. “Iceland is talked about as a paradise of equality. But in a paradise of equality there should not be a 21% wage gap and 40% of women who have experienced gender-based or sexual violence,” says Freja Steingrímsdóttir, one of the inspiration behind the strike.
The strikers demand the publication of data on the salaries of workers in professions considered predominantly female, and the adoption of measures against gender-based and sexual violence aimed at its authors.
It is expected that at least 25 thousand people will gather in the center of Reykjavik, and the same number will take part in ten other events across the country. The strike could be the biggest since 1975, when 90% of women took part. The “mothers’ strike” then led to the expansion of the rights of Icelandic women and, among other things, to the election of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as president of the country in 1980. She is considered the first woman in the world to become head of state following elections.
Unlike the “Mothers’ Strike,” this one also involves non-binary people—those who consider themselves neither a woman nor a man. According to Steingrímsdóttir, she and genderqueer people decided to join forces because they “are fighting the same system and are influenced by patriarchy.”