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Why Women In Iceland Walked Out Of Work At 2.38 P.M. Today

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Photo: Via @karajrennie/@rvkgrapevine
It may be the highest-ranking country in the world when it comes to gender equality, but Iceland is still far from being an egalitarian paradise.

Like many countries worldwide, one problem is the stubborn gender pay gap, which currently stands at around 18%, according to EU data.

And like most of us, Icelandic women are angry at this persistent injustice. Each year they have a powerful way to show they aren't willing to accept gender inequity lying down.

Today, many women around the country walked out of work at 14:38 – the time in an eight-hour day from which they effectively stop being paid for their work – before gathering in front of parliament to call for more to be done to close the gap, reported Iceland Review.

The demonstration, Women's Day Off, is backed by women's organisations and unions and was first held more than 40 years ago on the 24th of October 1975.

More than 90% of Iceland's women refused to work, cook or look after children during the original protest to highlight their crucial role in society.

A similar event was held in 2005, when women stopped working at 14:08. The time from which the demonstrators stopped working has been gradually getting later each year, an indication that the pay gap has been slowly narrowing.

In 2008 they left at 14:25 – just three minutes earlier than this year. At the current rate, it's estimated that women in Iceland (the most equal country in the world, remember) won't be paid the same as men until 2068.

"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," Anna, 26, from Reykjavik, who took part in today's action, told Refinery29.

It's been illegal to pay someone differently based on their gender in Iceland for nearly 60 years, and yet the gap persists. Wages are assumed to be based on education and job type – not gender.

“No one puts up with waiting 50 years to reach a goal,” said Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, president of ASÍ, the Icelandic Confederation of Labor, Iceland Review reported.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a gender pay gap or any other pay gap. It’s just unacceptable to say we’ll correct this in 50 years. That’s a lifetime.”
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