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October 26, 2016

Women in Iceland Walked Out of Work at 2:38 p.m. & American Women Should, Too.

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Thousands of women in Iceland owned the internet when they stood up against inequality this week and left work en masse at 2:38 p.m.

They did it to protest a 14 to 18 percent gender gap in pay between men and women in the otherwise über-progressive island country of about 325,000 people.

Their logic: based on the pay gap, any hours women clock beyond 2:38 p.m., or about 18 percent of the workday, are basically worked for free. This week, as women doctors, secretaries, managers, assembly workers, and more left their duties after 82 percent of their workday was over, the country got a dose of just how important those jobs—and those women—really are.

Their rally cries for parity were heard throughout the world, thanks to thousands of video clips and social media, and their peaceful (and smart) brand of protesting will likely yield some major changes, much like their 1975 protests in which 90 percent of Icelandic women, including housewives, teachers, cooks, and childcare workers, went on strike to protest lack of representation in the government, low pay, and lack of respect for their contributions in and out of the home. Within a few years of that protest, women had made tremendous gains in equal job opportunities and parental leave policies.

But what about women in the U.S.?

As of 2015, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women in the United States earned just 80 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Despite gains in education and workplace acceptance, the rate of change in pay equity has actually slowed since 2001. At the pace we are currently at, according to the AAUW, women will not be paid the same money for the same education and jobs until 2152.

A similar walkout would likely serve American women just as well because, hey, 80 percent of the pay should mean 80 percent of the time, right?

In a nine-to-five job, women are only paid until 3:40 p.m., or 80 percent of the day. The rest of the time, compared to men, we are working for free. Why not unite and walk out at 3:40 p.m. to show the country just how important our contributions are?

It’s not about hating men. It’s about wanting equality and deserving respect.

What’s more, the statistics are worse for women of color. African American women only make, on average, 63 percent of what their white, male counterparts are making. Latina women are only making a shocking 54 percent of what white men bring home.

The gap keeps women from buying homes, saving for retirement, and limits our contributions to the economy. A whopping 40 percent of American households with children are either run by a single woman, or a woman is the primary earner.

The goals: to expand the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide incentives for employers to follow the law, strengthen penalties for violations, enhance federal efforts, and prohibit retaliation against workers asking about wage practices, and to enact the Fair Pay Act, requiring employers to pay men and women equally for jobs that are equally valuable.

 

Women, we are not the same as men, but our contributions are equally important. We have a lot to gain by standing up together, and men have a lot to gain by standing with us.

More importantly, we have a lot to lose by being complacent.

We deserve equality. Our children deserve equality. Future generations deserve equality for all.

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Author: Amanda Christmann

Images: David Lammy/Twitter, Filmmor/Twitter

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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