The strike was organised as part of the National Women’s Holiday (Kvennafrídagurinn). First organised in 1975, about 90% of working women marched from their workplaces to Arnarhóll.
Grapevine joined the crowds at Arnarhóll and spoke to the people. Most of them were allowed to take paid time off work to join the strike, whereas women working in first responder industries, many of foreign origin, or those in low-paid jobs couldn’t participate. We caught up with the protesters and asked what the strike meant to them.
Berglind: “I’m here to protest and just be a part of it.”
A woman with a framed Mona Lisa: “She doesn’t want to be quiet anymore. We’re here for our sisters and daughters.”
Steinunn and Lára Jóna: “There’s a lot of equality in Iceland, probably more than in many countries, but we still have the pay gap. Women are doing a better portion of the chores at home, and then there is the whole thing about gender-based violence. We have to change the justice system. We’re here for women to keep thriving and to fight for equal rights for women.”
Kyana: “I’m here to support all the women in Iceland and also fight for my rights. I own a media production company, and I’m still not getting paid as much as my male counterparts. I know that for a fact.”
Anna Guðrún and Bjartey Elín: “We’re both dancers and we’re both women. There are more women than men in our industry and that’s why it gets less support from the government. Dance schools don’t get as much support as music schools or football schools, for example. We want to fight for the dance community. We have been working 200% jobs with 60% income.”
Hófí: “I’m here because I’m an Icelandic woman. Iceland is talked about as a paradise, but we’re not there yet. We have a division in the labour market, where we see all these important jobs that are only done by women and are very badly paid. This is such a rich country. We could divide it better.”
Magnús Orri, UN Women: “We’re trying to be visible to people, tell them what we’re doing for a cause that both of us are fighting for today.”
A group of women: “We’re here to protest inequality and support every woman. We got a day off at work and we’re also not doing anything at home today.”
Kolbrún, Katrín and Sædís. Sædís: “I am here because I find it unacceptable that we have to come here again and again and fight for the same things. This is moving way too slowly.”
Edit: “I’m here for all the women around the world. I’m lucky – I’m Icelandic, I’m married, I have my own company. All of my female employees are getting paid, but they don’t have to come to work today.”
Eydís and Gunna: “We’re supporting women with our loved ones and friends. It’s important to show support for all the women of Iceland and especially women we know and women we don’t know who can’t be here today and who are working in the health industry for example, like I do myself. I wasn’t working today, but if I had been, I would not have come today.”
According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland has one of the lowest pay gaps in the world. But, based on conversations with the people at Arnarhóll, it seems there’s still much work to be done.
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