The day Iceland’s women went on strike
Forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on strike – they refused to work, cook and look after children for a day. It was a moment that changed the way women were seen in the country and helped put Iceland at the forefront of the fight for equality.
When Ronald Reagan became the US President, one small boy in Iceland was outraged. „He can’t be a president – he’s a man!“ he exclaimed to his mother when he saw the news on the television.
It was November 1980, and Vigdis Finnbogadottir, a divorced single mother, had won Iceland’s presidency that summer. The boy didn’t know it, but Vigdis (all Icelanders go by their first name) was Europe’s first female president, and the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as a head of state.
Many more Icelandic children may well have grown up assuming that being president was a woman’s job, as Vigdis went on to held the position for 16 years – years that set Iceland on course to become known as „the world’s most feminist country“.
But Vigdis insists she would never have been president had it not been for the events of one sunny day – 24 October 1975 – when 90% of women in the country decided to demonstrate their importance by going on strike.