The Day Iceland's Women Went On Strike

In 1980, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, a divorced single mother, became Europe’s first female president. When interviewed, Vigdis (all Icelanders go by their first name) insisted she would never have been president had it not been for the events of October 24, 1975, when 90% of women in the country decided to demonstrate their importance by going on strike. Instead of going to the office, doing housework, cooking, grocery shopping, or any of their other duties, they took to the streets by the thousands to rally for equal rights with men. It is known in Iceland as the Women’s Day Off, and it was a watershed moment. Banks, factories, schools and nurseries had to close, leaving many fathers with no choice but to take their children to work. It was a baptism of fire for some fathers, which may explain why that day was given the name the Long Friday. Things went back to normal the next day, but with the knowledge that women are pillars of society just like men are. Five years later, Vigdis beat three male candidates for the presidency. She became so popular that she was re-elected unopposed in two of the next three elections.