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Why thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m.
Published Wednesday, October 26, 2016 11:51AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 26, 2016 6:46PM EDT
Thousands of Icelandic women put Thor to shame on Monday with a thunderclap of their own, after they walked out of their jobs early to protest the gender pay gap.
Women across the country left work at 2:38 p.m., with many gathering in front of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik for a massive demonstration. The gathered women called for equal pay, and showed their passion with a thunderclap – a communal clap that became associated with Iceland during the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.
The timing of the walkout was significant because 2:38 p.m. marks the time when women start working for "free" during a regular day, when the pay gap is factored in. Organizers say Icelandic women earn between 14 and 18 per cent less than men for the same work, on average.
The Icelandic Confederation of Labour party organized the walkout and the rally. The party says the gender pay gap has widened in Iceland since its financial collapse in 2008.
The World Economic Forum predicted in its annual Global Gender Report this week that the world is 170 years away from closing the economic gender gap. The report ranked Iceland 11th in terms of wage equality for similar work. "Iceland has closed approximately 12 per cent of its total gender gap, making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world," the report said. However, it adds that "there remains an income gap to close."
Iceland ranked first overall on the report's global gender gap index, which incorporates other factors like health, education, economic opportunity and political empowerment.
Canada ranked 35th overall on the index, and 68th in the rankings of wage equality for similar work.
The World Economic Forum also ranked Icelandic women as the most educated and politically empowered in the world, as they demonstrated on Monday.
The walkout sparked an outpouring of support on Twitter under the hashtag "Kvenn a frí," which roughly translates to "women vacation."