loader image

Iceland: What is called equality?

01 November, 2023 | Ricardo Changala

Equal pay and the fight against gender-based violence have been the main demands of women and non-binary people during the great demonstration on October 24, 2023, called Women’s Day Off (Kvennafrí). Women and non-binary people were asked not to do any work or household chores during the entire day of the 24th.

This is the sixth similar demonstration since the first one that took place on October 24, 1975

According to the unions and more than 40 feminist organizations calling for the strike, systemic wage discrimination still affects women, and gender-based violence is a pandemic that must be eradicated. Therefore, the demonstration was held under the slogan “Is that what equality is called?

The organizing unions clarify that the 2023 women’s strike is not a strike in the legal sense nor a holiday, but a collective action to fight for equality, in which workers participate to the extent that they can and want. Women and non-binary people are in very different situations and were also encouraged to participate in some way in the demonstration.

Immigrant women, who represent about 22% of the women in the Icelandic labour market, have also been expressly called to participate in the strike, as their contribution to Icelandic society is rarely highlighted and their importance is not reflected in the salaries they receive.

The country’s Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, has also joined the protest by postponing the Government Council for the next day and asking the other ministers of the Executive to not come to work either. The day before the strike, Jakobsdóttir told the Icelandic media that she was joining the strike with the will to “show solidarity with Icelandic women, as the goals of full gender equality including an unacceptable gender pay gap have not yet been achieved.

The other great demand of the strike has been to end gender-based violence, which the mayor of Reykjavik, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, described on television as a “real epidemic that we must face with the same seriousness with which we face COVID.”