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gender wage gap

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Women in Iceland walk off the job, demand equal pay

Can you imagine if every woman stood up at her desk and left work mid-afternoon to unite against gender discrimination in the workplace?

Women in Iceland are doing just that — and Women’s Post loves them for it.

Thousands of women left work at 2:38 p.m on Oct. 24 because, when comparing their salary to men, after that time their work would be unpaid. Women make 72 per cent of what men are paid to do similar jobs. At the same time, Iceland is the lead ranking country in gender balance worldwide according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), so the fact that they are leading the fight for gender equality is impressive and inspirational.

Canadian women also make 72 per cent of what are male counterparts earn, and yet there are no protests or demonstrations being organized to show that we don’t accept sexism in the workplace. Canada falls in 19th place for gender balance according to the WEF, scoring low points in politics and in economic participation and opportunity. Despite Canada’s attempts to be inclusive, we are significantly behind countries like Iceland that make gender equality a priority.

This is not the first time Iceland has protested the wage gap. Forty years earlier on Oct. 24, 1975, women joined together to march out of the office and make it clear they won’t work for free.  On this commemorated day, 90 per cent of women left their jobs and homes to protest inequality and this left the men to take care of children and work. Ninety per cent! That is an unheard number of participation in any demonstration.

Since then, women have protested twice more about the wage gap in an attempt to get equal pay faster. On October 24, 2005, women left at 2:08 p.m and in 2010, they left at 2:23 p.m. This year, women in Iceland left work at 2:38 p.m, which shows that the wage gap is slowly closing, but not fast enough. If the wage gap trend continues at this rate, women will achieve equal pay in 50 years. Imagine waiting 50 years until a you get paid the same as your male co-workers? This fact is absolutely unacceptable.

Women’s Post would like to commend Iceland for their persistence. In fact, women in Canada should take note of this persistence and do some of their own protesting. What do you think will happen if we all stood up and walked away from our desks at 2:38 p.m.? Would our employers take notice?

The fact that people have to say “Women deserve equal pay” in 2016 is starting and disgusting. If Iceland, a country that is ranked as one of the best in gender equality in the world, is putting in this much effort to close the wage gap, then Canada should be working twice as hard.

Tell us what you think women should do to encourage the government (and large corporations) to put an end to wage discrimination. Leave us a comment below.