Women's Day Off
In April 2016 Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer returned from a fact-finding trip to Iceland obsessed with an idea. WE should organise a Women’s Day Off. Head of Policy Halla Gunnarsdottir enthusiastically agreed.
The original Women’s Day Off was held in Halla’s home country, Iceland, in 1975. Ninety percent of the female population took the day off from paid and unpaid work in order to demonstrate the value of their labour. There was an immediate effect and a longer-term benefit: sexist attitudes became unacceptable overnight. Understanding that gender equality is also better for them, men began pushing for change too.
WE are orgainsing the Women’s Day Off in 2018 to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the Act that gave some women in the UK the vote.
That date was also chosen to reflect the intricate planning needed for a Day Off on the scale of Iceland’s. WE want all women who wish to do so to be able to participate. WE know many women have caring duties or are in low-paid jobs where they will not be easily permitted time off or may not be paid if they take it. The NHS would collapse without female staff. Iceland’s Day Off worked because employers and unions supported it.
In a world galvanised by recent events into a new spirit of activism, WE were part of the team behind the Women’s March on London on 21 January, when over 100,000 women, men and children took to the streets in a show of global solidarity against racism, sexism and misogyny.
WE welcome the call by the organisers of the Women’s March in the US for “A Day Without Women” on March 8 of this year. WE will march together on International Women’s Day as we march every day to make gender equality a reality.
WE look forward to working with the Women’s Marches and with anyone who wants to get involved for the 2018 Day Off. In 1975 a single day kick-started the process that made Iceland the world’s most gender equal country. Let’s build a Day Off in 2018 that catapults England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the top of the gender equality tables.
With your help, this is going to be huge. And WE will help you to take action: keep an eye out for details of our activist training programme launching very soon.