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Icelandic Women, Including Prime Minister, Unite in Strike Against Gender Inequality


"Women in Iceland Stage Seventh Strike for Gender Equality

Women across Iceland, including Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, are set to participate in the seventh Women's Day Off, a striking initiative aimed at advocating for greater gender equality. Originating from the inaugural strike on October 24, 1975, this year's action, scheduled for Tuesday, urges all women, including immigrants, to abstain from both paid and unpaid work, emphasizing the vital role they play in society.

The campaign, known as "Kvennafrí" in Icelandic, seeks to spotlight systemic issues such as wage discrimination and gender-based violence faced by Icelandic women. Despite progress, UN Chief warns that achieving true gender equality might take 300 years. Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir, expressing solidarity, announced her decision to refrain from work on the strike day and encouraged fellow female government members to follow suit.

Addressing persistent challenges, Jakobsdóttir stated, 'We are still tackling the gender-based wage gap, which is unacceptable in 2023. We are still tackling gender-based violence, which has been a priority for my government to address.' Despite her government's commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap by 2022, the struggle persists.

Historically, Icelandic employers have supported these strikes, refraining from penalizing or docking pay for participating employees. This year's initiative enjoys backing from prominent organizations, including the Federation of the Public Workers Union in Iceland (BSRB), the Icelandic Nurses’ Association, and the Icelandic Association of Women’s Associations.

Organizers are specifically highlighting the often overlooked contributions of immigrant women, emphasizing that their invaluable impact on Icelandic society is inadequately acknowledged and reflected in their wages. The Women's Day Off stands as a powerful annual reminder of the ongoing battle for gender equality, prompting collective action and societal reflection on the need for meaningful change."

"In a pivotal CNN article from 2019, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir articulated a transformative moment for Iceland, recounting how testimonies from migrant and ethnic minority women highlighted unaddressed issues at the intersections of gender, race, and class. Despite Iceland's global recognition for progress in gender equality, these narratives underscored the need for a more comprehensive approach to social justice.

As the nation gears up for the seventh Women's Day Off strike, organizers are urging men to actively demonstrate their support by assuming additional responsibilities both at home and in the workplace. This collective effort aims to empower female and non-binary partners and colleagues to participate fully in the strike, emphasizing the shared responsibility in fostering gender equality.

Simultaneously, the Icelandic government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir, has initiated a research project focused on unraveling wage disparities between professions traditionally dominated by men and those dominated by women. Jakobsdóttir explained, 'We are examining how these jobs differ because we believe that the existing wage gap is attributed to these distinctions.' This forward-looking initiative underscores the government's commitment to addressing the root causes of gender-based wage disparities.

As Iceland continues its journey toward inclusivity and equity, the combination of grassroots movements, like the Women's Day Off strike, and government-led research projects signifies a holistic approach to dismantling barriers and fostering genuine gender equality."

The recurring Women's Day Off strike in Iceland, including the active involvement of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, serves as a potent symbol of the ongoing pursuit of gender equality. Reflecting on testimonies from migrant and ethnic minority women, Jakobsdóttir acknowledges that while Iceland has achieved international acclaim for its strides in gender equality, there remains an urgent need to confront the intricate intersections of gender, race, and class injustices.

The call for men to actively support the strike by assuming additional responsibilities at home and in the workplace aligns with the broader theme of shared responsibility in dismantling gender disparities. This collective effort aims to empower women and non-binary individuals to fully participate in the strike, fostering a sense of unity and shared commitment to gender equality.

Simultaneously, the Icelandic government's dedication to a research project examining wage disparities between male-dominated and female-dominated professions demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing the root causes of gender-based wage gaps. Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir's emphasis on understanding the differences in job roles as a contributing factor underscores a commitment to informed policy-making.

As Iceland navigates the complexities of societal equality, the synergy between grassroots movements like the Women's Day Off and government-led initiatives paints a comprehensive picture of a nation striving for inclusivity, equity, and genuine gender equality."