40 Years Ago, the Women of Iceland Went on Strike
Women do a lot of unappreciated work. When accounting for unpaid, informal work like child care, women work more hours per day than men do. In formal work settings, men still get paid more for the same jobs than women—even women educated at elite business schools.
Forty years ago today, Icelandic women decided enough was enough. On October 24, 1975, 90 percent of Icelandic women went on strike, refusing to go to work, look after the kids, cook, or clean. Instead, they gathered in the streets to protest for equal rights, a day now called Women's Day Off. Stores and factories had to close for the day, and men were suddenly wholly responsible for their children’s care. Easy-to-cook sausages sold out at stores, and offices were overrun by kids who accompanied their fathers to work. Many men deemed it "Long Friday."
“Things went back to normal the next day, but with the knowledge that women are as well as men the pillars of society," Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who became Iceland’s first woman president in 1980, told the BBC.
In 2005, about a third of the country's women participated in a second Women's Day Off to protest continued disparities in women's pay and political participation. Though the country has a ways to go before it reaches complete equality, Iceland is currently rated as number 1 on a list of the best economies in the world for gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum. The U.S. is all the way down at number 20. Perhaps American women should consider a strike?