Amid reports that the global gender pay gap will not be closed for 170 years if current trends continue, thousands of women in Iceland have chosen to make a strong statement against the wage disparity. Women working in the country’s capital, Reykjavik, walked out of their offices at 2.38 pm on Monday to protest against the 14 to 18 per cent pay gap between men and women. The number indicates that in an eight-hour day shift, women are effectively working without pay from 2.38 pm.
The protest also commemorated the iconic Women’s Day Off protest of 1975, where almost 90 per cent of Icelandic women refused to work, cook and look after their children for a day. They took to the streets to march for gender equality. The incident had set a precedent for all the other protests that happened over the years.
More than a decade ago, in 2005, Icelandic women similarly left their workplaces in protest at 2.08 pm. In 2008, the time was changed to 2.25 pm, suggesting there was little improvement in closing the wage disparity. The Icelandic government has also promised to close the gender pay gap by 2022.
Monday’s protest also found support from the other side. Speaking to Iceland’s national broadcaster RÚV, a male protester said he supported the demands made by the Icelandic women. When asked why he chose to support them, the man pointed at the little girl he was carrying in his arms and said, “For her. She should get better salary in the future like the men.”
According to World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report, Iceland is one of the top five countries that have managed to close more than 80 per cent of the gender gap. In India, the number stands at a dismal 32 per cent. Only 28 per cent of females participate in the formal workforce in India as compared to the 8 per cent of males.