Why Icelandic Women Left Work At 2:38 P.M. By The Thousands

There's no time to lose.

On Monday, thousands of women in Iceland walked out of their offices midway through the workday, taking to Reykjavik's chilly streets in a mass protest against the gender wage gap. 

According to Mashable, women in Iceland currently make 18 percent less than their male counterparts — so they left work at 2:38 p.m., the precise time they stop being paid for their work.


The protest is an annual event dubbed Kvennafrí, or "Women's Day Off," that has been observed since 1975 to raise awareness about the wage gap between men and women. That year, when the wage disparity was as high as 60 percent, a reported 90 percent of Icelandic women came out to protest.

This year, young girls joined their mothers to protest protest wage discrimination. 

Iceland has made incredible progress on this front since the first Kvennafrí took place forty years ago. The country has consistently topped the Global Gender Gap Report in the past few years, gaining noted success in the political and educational empowerment indexes. (Iceland was also the first nation to democratically elect a female president in 1980, Vigdis Finnbogadottir.)

And Iceland is doing better on closing the gender wage gap, albeit more slowly than some would prefer. An indicator of its progress is the time at which Icelandic women leave work during Kvennafrí each year. According to The Independent, in 2005, they left work at 2:08 p.m. In 2008, it was 2:25 p.m. In 2016, 2:38 p.m. And hopefully in the near future, it will be at 5 p.m., along with their male peers.


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