On October 24, 2023, tens and thousands of non-binary individuals and women , including the Icelandic prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, participated in a strike across Iceland, advocating for an end to the gender pay gap and gender-based violence. This protest transpired on the 48th anniversary of a similar movement in 1975, during which 90% of Icelandic women went on strike, leading to the Landmark Equality Act—which confirms the equality of men and women–and the election of the first female president of Iceland.

Despite Iceland being ranked number one globally in terms of gender equality, this protest sought to stop all forms of paid and unpaid labor for a full day in order to call attention to women’s contribution to society. They achieved this goal successfully, as the strike caused numerous shutdowns across the country, namely leading to transportation delays, and most significantly, the understaffing of hospitals. Iceland’s National University Hospital—the biggest workplace in Iceland—is 80% female, and thus had to delay their operations and run on minimum staffing.

The women and non-binary individuals gathered at Aranarhól, a hill in the country’s capital, chanting “Kallarou þetta jafnretti?,” which translates to “you call this equality?” The “equality” to which they are referring is the gender pay gap and gender-based violence. Iceland’s pay gap was10% in 2021, and has now widened to 29.7% today. The other inequity women are bringing into light is unpaid labor, such as domestic tasks and chores. According to the New York Times, if women all around the world got paid minimum wage for every hour of unpaid work, they would have contributed $10.9 trillion to the global economy. Unpaid labor also significantly negatively impacts women’s physical and mental health. This is due to the fact that most women have the burden of doing housework and chores on top of their day job. 40% of women in Iceland have also experienced gender-based violence.

Considering the fact that Iceland is ranked number one globally for gender equality, it may be confusing why they are still protesting. I believe that this informs us immensely on the state of the world in terms of gender equality. If the women in Iceland are still upset and fighting, then the world has a long way to go.

No country has yet to achieve complete gender parity, and it will be interesting to see what changes this strike will make. While the country's parliament is already 47.6% women, Iceland is quickly learning that equal representation does not eliminate gender inequality. It will be compelling to see what changes Iceland will make, and, as statistics tell us, Iceland does well when it comes to gender equality, and hopefully whatever comes of the protests can be used as an example for other countries.