On October 24th, 1975, women in Iceland left work to highlight the importance of women‘s contribution to society. Today, 45 years later, women‘s contributions to society are still not valued fairly and equally.
The average pay of women in Iceland is still 25% less than the average pay of men. This means that an average workday of 8 hours, women have earned their pay after only 6 hours and 1 minute. Thus, women in Iceland stop being paid for their work at 3:01 p.m., in a workday that begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
We are now facing the greatest pandemic in a century. COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our economy, health and equality. Women are in the forefront of the fight against the pandemic and they are the ones who are most impacted by it, bearing the brunt of the financial, health and social costs.
Women are the majority of workers in occupations that we have designated as essential in this time of pandemic. Women are 75% of healthcare and social workers in Iceland, 73% of people working in the education sector and 57% of service and sales workers.
These are the women most at risk for infection, women who work under great physical and psychological stress. They work in jobs that cannot be done remotely, jobs that do not allow the flexibility to deal with disruptions such as school and daycare closings or illness in the family.
The pandemic has caused a rise in domestic violence around the world, and Iceland is no exception. In May of this year, the police in Iceland reported an 11% increase in reports of domestic violence when compared to the years before.
COVID-19 has exposed the cruel undervaluation of traditional women‘s occupations, value which is in no way commensurate to their importance. Women‘s work is the foundation of our society and wages need to reflect that. Women who are in the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 deserve our thanks for their heroic work and resiliency in challenging conditions. But they cannot live on gratitude alone.
- We demand that women‘s work be valued fairly and wages and benefits ensured.
- We demand that the wages and benefits of frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 be ensured and bonus payments equitable.
- We demand that all actions taken by the government and labor market organizations in response to COVID-19 be gender evaluated, to ensure that they benefit all genders equally.
- We demand that human rights be a guiding light in all decision making and any response to COVID-19, so that no one is discriminated against because of gender, origin, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, sex characteristics, disability, age, place of residence, religion, social or economic status.
- We demand that the safety of women in the workplace and in the home be ensured.
Together, we will create an equal society beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Value women‘s jobs fairly. Don‘t change women, change society. Equal Income NOW!
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