The 2016 protest by women is not the first time women in Iceland have gone on strike for equal pay for equal work. In 1975 labour unions and women’s rights organisations took a women’s day off and 90% of women in the country participated including domestic workers. This strike paralyzed the country, and men were forced to take their children to the office.
On October 24th 2016 women stopped work at 2.08 p.m. demonstrating that they would work 18% less than men that day to emphasize that they had worked for what they had been paid. These women in a peaceful way stood together to empower their cause.
In 1975 when the nation was brought to a standstill, women left home early in the morning and did not return until late at night. They organised themselves and made a powerful protest to remind society of the role they played in running it, and of the low pay and low value placed on them and their work within and outside the home. They changed the word strike to a day off. Employers might fire them for a strike but would have a problem denying them a day off. Forty years later there is a feeling of disillusionment as little has changed.
It remains to be seen whether the authorities hear their message, although there has been a pledge to ensure equal pay for women by the year 2022. Statistics Canada has noted that on average women earn 18% less than their male counterparts.
This conversation is not over. The every day experience of women is that there is still discrimination and inequality. Creating a just social structure for women has been a long and arduous process and the struggle is not yet over. Women still deal with sexism in many areas of society. I propose that the changes that have been made to laws serve to correct human behaviour, but cannot regulate it, while the majority of men and women sympathize with the goal of social justice for women much work is still being done by many organisations who are watch dogs for change.
While we can all acknowledge that women are in a much better position than they were, many struggle with abuse and inequality. The underlying social attitudes still prevail and there seems to be no quick fix to our problems.
As women we have always been a diverse group with different opinions and values but true change comes from inner change and transformation of our personal lives both men and women. God’s perspective is so different from the human perspective. He always wanted true harmony and equality but we have not followed his plan and so have not experienced the gift of true freedom. The gift of freedom is truly a gift when we receive it, and then share it with each other.
The fact that women earn less than men is really just a symptom of the malaise that exists in our cultures and of corruption in our thinking. We need true change from the inside out. In submission to God and his ways it is possible for us to be changed and have true freedom and equality.
women in Iceland were told by the government that 2022 was likely the earliest that they would see any movement on their request for equal pay for women. This however was not the case and recent legislation now allows women in Iceland equal pay for equal work.