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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Girls throughout Iceland, together with the prime minister, go on strike for equal pay and no extra violence

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HUSAVIK, Iceland — Faculties, retailers, banks and Iceland’s well-known swimming swimming pools shut on Tuesday as girls within the volcanic island nation — together with the prime minister — went on strike to push for an finish to unequal pay and gender-based violence.

Icelanders awoke to all-male information groups asserting shutdowns throughout the nation, with public transport delayed, hospitals understaffed and resort rooms uncleaned. Commerce unions, the strike’s essential organizers, referred to as on girls and nonbinary folks to refuse paid and unpaid work, together with chores. About 90% of the nation’s staff belong to a union.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdóttir stated she would keep residence as a part of the strike — “kvennaverkfall” in Icelandic — and anticipated different girls in her Cupboard would do the identical.

Iceland, a rugged island of round 380,000 folks just under the Arctic Circle, has been ranked because the world’s most gender-equal nation 14 years in a row by the World Financial Discussion board, which measures pay, training, health care and different components.

No nation has achieved full equality, and there stays a gender pay hole in Iceland.

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Tuesday’s walkout, operating from midnight to midnight, was billed as the most important since Iceland’s first such occasion on Oct. 24, 1975, when 90% of girls refused to work, clear or take care of youngsters, to voice anger at discrimination within the office.

In 1976, Iceland handed a legislation guaranteeing equal rights regardless of gender. Since then there have been a number of partial-day strikes, most just lately in 2018, with girls strolling off the job within the early afternoon, symbolizing the time of day when girls, on common, cease incomes in comparison with males.

Iceland’s chools and the well being system, which have female-dominated workforces, stated they might be closely affected. Nationwide broadcaster RUV stated it was lowering tv and radio broadcasts for the day, and reported that just one financial institution department within the nation was open.

Gatherings on Tuesday had been held throughout Iceland, the most important in Reykjavik, the place a lot of the capital’s middle was closed to visitors and tens of 1000’s gathered on the grassy Arnarhóll hill for a rally.

Audio system listed grim information about financial inequality and sexual violence in Iceland, ending by asking, “You name that equality?” The gang thundered again: “No!”

“Now we have not but reached our objectives of full gender equality and we’re nonetheless tackling the gender-based wage hole, which is unacceptable in 2023,” Jakobsdóttir advised information web site mbl.is. “We’re nonetheless tackling gender-based violence, which has been a precedence for my authorities to deal with.”

Jakobsdóttir’s Cupboard is evenly break up between female and male ministers, and practically half of lawmakers in Iceland’s parliament, the Althingi, are girls.

However whereas girls in Iceland have pushed or damaged the glass ceiling to prime jobs — from bishop to leaders of the nationwide wrestling affiliation — the lowest-paying jobs, reminiscent of cleansing and youngster care, are nonetheless predominantly achieved by girls.

The work, important to Iceland’s tourism-dominated economic system, additionally relies upon closely on immigrants, who on the entire work longer hours and take residence the bottom salaries. Round 22% of the feminine workforce is foreign-born, in accordance with Statistics Iceland.

“International girls are extra susceptible,” stated Alice Clarke, an artist and designer from Canada who has lived in Iceland for 30 years. “Hopefully what’s being achieved right this moment will assist to vary that.”

Iceland’s 1975 strike impressed related protests in different nations together with Poland, the place girls boycotted jobs and lessons in 2016 to protest a proposed abortion ban. In Spain, girls staged a 24-hour strike in 2018 on March 8, Worldwide Girls’s Day, underneath the theme “If we cease, the world stops.”

Spain’s appearing equality minister, Irene Montero, stated Tuesday that the 2018 strike was impressed by Iceland’s 1975 walkout and expressed full help for the newest protest.


Related Press writers Jill Lawless in London and Ciarán Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.

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