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Women in Iceland strike after 48 against gender pay gap

In a bold display of unity, Icelandic women embarked on a full-day strike on October 24, 2023, marking the first such action in nearly five decades. This powerful demonstration, known as the "Kvennafrí" or "Women's Day Off," served as a resounding call for action against the persistent gender pay gap, gender-based violence, and the unequal distribution of unpaid labor.

Iceland strike: A call for equal pay

The 2023 Kvennafrí brought the country to a standstill as women withdrew from all forms of paid and unpaid work, including housework. Schools, banks, shops, and even the Prime Minister's office closed their doors, leaving an indelible mark on Icelandic society.

The strike culminated in a massive rally in the capital, Reykjavík, where thousands gathered to listen to speeches, songs, and messages of solidarity.

Wage gap: a challenge amid progress

Despite Iceland's reputation as a global leader in gender equality, the country's women continue to face significant challenges. The wage gap persists, with women earning up to 21% less than men in some industries.

The burden of unpaid labor also falls disproportionately on women, and the prevalence of sexual violence remains alarming, with 40% of women reporting having experienced it.

Demands for transparency and action

The strike organizers have put forward a set of demands aimed at addressing these issues. They call for the publication of pay gaps in women-led industries, the implementation of harsher penalties for perpetrators of gender-based violence, and a renewed commitment to achieving gender equality in all aspects of Icelandic society.

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