< Back to Blog
Original link:

2023-08-29 06:05:12

The day women shut down Iceland

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

This is a chart of the gender pay gap in developed economies in the US , women are paid 17% less than men .

And in Japan , 22% .

On the other end , there's Iceland where the pay gap is around 10% .

It's one of the few countries in the world where women are paid almost as much as men .

But that wasn't the case .

About 50 years ago .

In 1975 the gender pay gap in the US was 37% .

Japan was 42% and Iceland was at 40% .

So how did it go from here to here to figure that out ?

You have to take a look at what happened on this day in 1975 .

This idea was to show that we could bring society to a standstill if we were not there , nothing was done .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

We expected a lot of women to show up at the demonstration but not in our wildest dreams .

Did we expect this ?

This is the story of how Icelandic women shut down their country and changed it forever .

Iceland gained independence from Denmark and became a parliamentary democracy .

In 1944 Iceland separated from Denmark and regained full self government .

The Conservative Independence Party became the strongest political force in the country and held the position of Prime Minister for almost 20 years .

Under this party's leadership policies that enforced gender inequity were widespread , especially in the workplace .

By the seventies , women made up the majority of poorly paid , undervalued jobs and were forced out of the labor market to work at home .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

In response to decades of conservative policies , a new women's group called the Red Stockings took radical steps to demand equal rights .

Like when they crowned a cow at the young Miss Iceland pageant to bring attention to unfair beauty standards and crucified a doll dressed like a housewife to protest women's domestic labor .

It is a very active group , a bit anarchistic .

This is Elizabeth , a founding member of the Red Stockings and we felt that there were so many aspects of our lives that hadn't been discussed that had stayed the same for such a long time .

Workplace in equity was a big issue .

Elizabeth and the Red Stockings wanted to challenge and they took to the streets to draw attention to it .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

In the first of May demonstration in 1970 we carried a big statue on our shoulders and we got it from a play that had been put up in that winter about women going on strike , but to make an impact , they wanted a full blown strike .

And that was going to be complicated because organizing a strike outside of trade unions and employers associations was illegal in Iceland .

So the Red Stockings who weren't part of either group couldn't act on their idea until 1975 .

When the United Nations kicked off International Women's Year , I would like to welcome you all to this historic event .

This was the first global conference dedicated to women's issues .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

Form part of virtually every delegation and governments around the world planned events to address gender discrimination in Iceland .

The Prime Minister's office selected representatives from different women's associations across the country to make preparations .

The committee was politically diverse .

It included teachers , single mothers , conservatives , and liberals like the Red Stockings to make sure the event reflected the views of women across Iceland .

The Red Stockings took this opportunity to propose that a women's strike against the gender pay gap was the best way to mark international women's year .

Conservative women's associations found the idea far too radical , but the Red Stockings believed in the strike .

So they pushed for one and slowly got some members on board .

But overall , the committee was reluctant until they heard a woman around 70 .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

She was from a center political party from the old feminists and she came to the podium and said strike .

Is that what you don't like ?

Why don't you then call it just a day off ?

So that's what they did .

The committee picked a day when women would collectively refuse to work at home and in the office to prove their economic value and they called it a day off or a free , they only had three months to prepare .

So the Red Stockings and the rest of the committee immediately mobilized multiple labor unions and women's organizations across the country to plan fundraise and spread the word about .

The political party used their own platform to talk to their women .

There were all kinds .

So women from diverse political and social groups and we worked very well together .

All of us .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

They wrote hundreds of letters to women across the country and called as many households as they could in Iceland's phone book to spread the word .

They wrote articles , did radio interviews , design flyers and organize meetings late into the night to make sure that front of free was a success .

Some men were foolish enough to threaten them , threaten their employees and that didn't go down .

Well , on October 24 1975 90% of Icelandic women refused to work at home and in the office , an estimated 25,000 women took to the streets in Reykjavik alone to give speeches and sing about women's rights .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

There is even a vinyl of recorded songs sung by the Red Stockings from your body .

So many women refused to work that day that Iceland shut down without women , the telephone system crashed without switchboard operators and newspapers couldn't publish without typesetters .

The national airline canceled flights because there were no stewardesses and preschools across the country shut down .

Women's absence was felt in the home too without domestic labor that Icelandic women carried out .

There was no child care .

So men had to stay home or bring their Children to work .

It was this cooperation across politics and classes and , and housewives and women working outside the home .

It was a celebration the impact of was felt across the country .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

After the day off , Iceland passed its first Gender Equality Act and officially banned wage discrimination on the basis of gender equal rights of women were added to the constitution and women representation in parliament rose too in 1980 .

I so elected its first female leader and the world's first woman president to be elected democratically something she insisted wouldn't have been possible without you .

No country in the world has completely closed its gender pay gap .

Iceland still has some work to do too but the country's quick progress is a sign that closing the gap is possible .

Demonstrations like free might not work in the same way in other countries .

But its success shows us what happens when a country unites politically and socially to get closer to equality .

Fun didn't stop .

video content Image generated by Wilowrid

In 1975 there was one organized in 1985 2005 , 2010 , 2016 and 2018 .

The event has tackled everything from reproductive issues like abortion rights to the ongoing gender pay gap in Iceland .

But one of my favorite favorite pieces of history from this story is that you can actually listen to the original song sung on the 1975 day off on Spotify , which includes songs sung by the Red Stockings .

The link is in the description down below .

Thanks again for watching this episode of Missing Chapter and we can't wait to see you in the next one till next time .


Attention YouTube vloggers and media companies!
Are you looking for a way to reach a wider audience and get more views on your videos?
Our innovative video to text transcribing service can help you do just that.
We provide accurate transcriptions of your videos along with visual content that will help you attract new viewers and keep them engaged. Plus, our data analytics and ad campaign tools can help you monetize your content and maximize your revenue.
Let's partner up and take your video content to the next level!
Contact us today to learn more.