October 24 - 1975 - Kvennafrídagurinn

In Iceland in 1975, women made about 60 per cent of what men did on average. To address that and other inequalities, a strike was planned across Iceland in which women would do absolutely no work. Called "Kvennafrídagurinn," or the women's day off, it was planned throughout 1975. Remarkably, about 90 per cent of Iceland's female population participated. This made a wide variety of industries shut down. Newspaper typesetters were largely women, so newspapers could not be printed. Schools and daycares were largely shut down, and men took their kids to offices, because women did not do any work, including childcare and housework. Most strikingly, 20,000 women, of a total national population of 225,00, gathered in Reykjavik for a rally. The effort around Kvennafrídagurinn worked almost as planned. Men in Iceland woke up to the need for reform. A gender equality law was passed through the Parliament the next year, and Vigdis Finbogadottir would become Iceland's, and the world's, first democratically elected president. Kvennafrídagurinn did not shift the wage gap, but it still holds a place in Icelandic cultural memory.

William Floyd