Did you know about the 1975 Icelandic women’s strike?

On 24 October 1975, more than 90% of the women in Iceland went out on strike. They did not do housework, childcare, or go to their jobs. Banks, factories, schools, shops all had to close. Male television newsreaders read the news with children playing in the background. The country was paralysed. Men had to take their children to work, and look after them for the day. As a result, sausages sold out almost everywhere, and sales of sweets, coloured pencils and paper skyrocketed.

These strong women wanted to show how important women were to the country and the economy, and to protest low wages (women earned 60% of what men did for doing the same job) and unequal conditions. One year later, the Icelandic parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal pay. Five year’s later President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected, the first democratically elected female president in the world.

Having read about it, it seems there was no great anger on the part of men, or the country, for the strike. Many of the women did not lose pay, or holiday, for attending the strike, and returned to work the following day. Iceland is a small country with very dramatic and unforgiving landscapes, and many Icelandic sagas from long ago feature very strong women. You can really see it, even today.


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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