From Iceland to Galway – The Strive to Close the Gender Pay Gap

By Ananda Patrasco

Thousands of women gathered from across Iceland in the country’s capitol Reykjavik last Tuesday protesting for equal pay for women and to end gender-based violence, including their Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdóttir.

As many of the country’s businesses and services closed, it was a day for Icelandic women to strike and raise awareness about the issues women face in their society. 

This was the first full day women’s strike since the first one which happened in 1975, the day known as kvennafrí(women’s day off), where 90% of Iceland’s women did not go to work that day.

This day led to pivotal change in Iceland’s laws and politics including the election of the first female president of a country in the world, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in 1980. 

With Iceland being a world leader in their approach to equality and have one of the smallest gender pay gaps, there still is not full equality between men and women. The gender pay gap stood at 9.1% in 2022 and at 10.2% the year before and with over 40% of women having experienced gender-based or sexual violence, Icelandic women feel there still is more work to be done. 

The president of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, tweeted his support on the day of the strike: “Women in Iceland are striking today, for the 7th time since the famous #womensdayoff in 1975. Their activism for equality has changed Icelandic society for the better and continues to do so today. #Kvennaverkfall”.

Ireland’s Gender Pay Gap

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) have released the statistics for the gender pay gap (GPG) in Ireland for 2022 which was 9.6%, meaning men earned 9.6% more than women. There is also a difference in the mean paid weekly hours with men employees who averagely work 35.7 hours and women who averagely work 30.1 hours, there being a 15.7% difference.

In the economic sectors the financial, real-estate and insurance sectors reported the highest GPG at 24.7% with men on average earning €41.93 hourly and €31.59 for women. The sector with the lowest GPG is the education sector, standing at 2.7%.

In the Galway County Councils Gender Pay Gap Report 2022, the report uses data from a snapshot date in June in 2022, nonetheless it is still a good indication of the average differences in earnings between men and women. The report shows that on that day 37% of employees were women and 63% of employees were men and showed on average women earned 2.54% less than men. 

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