In 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, a divorced single mother, became the world’s first democratically elected female president. Serving as the President of Iceland from 1980-1996, she credits her election to the Women’s Strike of 1975.
The daughter of a professor and a nurse, Vigdis was working as the Artistic Director of the Reykjavík Theatre Company when she abandoned dress rehearsals and joined 90% of women in Iceland in striking for the day. Led by the Red Stockings, a feminist association, they called for economic equality—condemning unfair pay in the workplace, uncompensated housework and unequal representation in government. Employers were forced to close, men forced to take children to work and institutions forced to consider changes in policy. The impact on the economy put the country at a standstill.
The impact was obvious and long term effect significant. The country created the Gender Equality Council one year later and passed the Gender Equality Act, outlawing discrimination in education and the workplace. Five years later, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, propelled by the support of the Women’s Strike beat three male candidates and became the world’s first female president.
Forty some years later, we garner Vigdis’ courage for a “Day Without Women” on March 8th. Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the strike intends to reiterate "the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socioeconomic system," according to the Women’s March web site.
Acknowledging the many demands we each face, there are three ways offered to participate, melding our desires to support with the realities of our daily situation.
1. Take the day off of work whether paid or unpaid
2. Refrain from shopping that day but if you do, stick to supporting small, minority or female owned businesses.
3. Wear red in support and solidarity of those participating in the strike.
In solidarity with the Women’s Strike, we will not be working or shipping on March 8th. Anything purchased will go out the following day. - Maureen Post
Photo Credit : Wikimedia Commons