How Did Iceland Become a Leader in the Women's Rights Movement?

Sometimes the best way to win a fight is not to fight -- or do anything at all. That lesson was proven perfectly by the women of Iceland on October 24, 1975. Demanding equal rights, the female citizens decided that the ideal method of proving their merit was to show the men what they would be missing, so they stopped working, cooking, cleaning, and even tending to their children. The protest was no small event either, as 90 percent of the country's women joined in. The strike, which included the women taking to the streets, reverberated throughout the nation, with schools, businesses, and nurseries shuttering for the day, and fathers having little choice but to take their kids with them to work. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who became Iceland's first female president five years after the strike, told the BBC that that single day -- commonly known as "Women's Day Off" -- changed the nation for good. "What happened that day was the first step for women's emancipation in Iceland," she said. "It completely paralyzed the country and opened the eyes of many men."

Today, Iceland is known as one of Europe's most progressive nations. Besides the election of Finnbogadottir in 1980, the nation soon saw many changes that benefited all people, including establishing paternity leave for men and the election of the world's first openly gay head of government, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Uneven equality:

  • Iceland's current prime minister is a woman: Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who assumed the role in 2017. She is also the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.
  • Between 1960 and 2015, 108 women became national leaders in 70 countries, although this is only a small fraction of male leadership.
  • So many women are denied education that two-thirds of the world's nearly 800 million illiterate adults are female.
More Info: BBC

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?