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The Day the Women Went on Strike

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The Day the Women Went on Strike

Visible Women Podcast


5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Women’s unpaid labor is vital to the economy, yet gets scant attention from policy-makers; could COVID-19 spark a sea change?

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Unpaid labor – usually care work, performed by women – could account for between 50% and 80% of global GDP. Yet the contribution and burden of this labor remains largely ignored by economists, policy-makers and society at large. In this episode of Visible Women, host Caroline Criado Perez discusses the economics of care work with professor Nancy Folbre, government worker Khara Jabola-Carolus, and Guðrún Hallgrímsdóttir and Lilja Ólafsdóttir, organizers of Iceland’s historic “Women’s Day Off.” What, Perez asks, will it take to make care work better recognized and valued? Might COVID-19 be an impetus for change?


In October 1975, some 90% of Icelandic women participated in an historic “Women’s Day Off.”

The idea for the strike came from a conference for low-paid female union members, organized by Iceland’s radical feminist Redstockings movement. On the proposed “holiday,” a vast majority of Iceland’s women stopped performing both paid and unpaid labor. One in five women also attended a protest in Reykjavík’s main square. 

Normal life in Iceland came to a standstill. With schools closed and their wives out protesting, fathers were forced to take their children to work. Switchboards had no operators to connect phone calls. Supermarkets purportedly ran out of sausages as men desperately sought out simple dinner solutions. The strike proved successful in making the vital nature of women’s unpaid care work visible. Five years after the Day Off, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir become Iceland’...

About the Podcast

Best-selling author and activist Caroline Criado Perez is the host of the Visible Women podcast, which builds on the ground-breaking research in her award-winning book, Invisible WomenNancy Folbre is professor emerita of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Khara Jabola-Carolus is executive director of the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women. Guðrún Hallgrímsdóttir and Lilja Ólafsdóttir helped organize Iceland’s historic “Women’s Day Off.”

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