Skip to main content


When mums went on strike

Former Icelandic president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Getty

There’s one sector of “woefully undervalued” workers who haven’t yet gone on strike, says Allegra Chapman in the I newspaper: mums. But there is precedent. In 1975, 90% of Icelandic women refused to work, clean or look after children on what became known as “the long Friday”. The country was “paralysed”: banks, shops and factories couldn’t function; even the next day’s newspapers were shorter than usual. A few years later, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the world’s first democratically elected female head of state, which she put down to an increased awareness of “women’s importance to society”.

British women could certainly be forgiven for following their lead. Statutory maternity pay is £156 a week, less than half the minimum wage. Nursery fees for children aged between 39 weeks and three years cost 65% of the average parent’s income, meaning many women are forced to choose between indebting themselves and dropping out of the workforce. And according to the ONS, mothers spend 77% more time than fathers looking after kids, and undertake 62% of the housework. That equates to £260 of work each week in unpaid domestic duties. So come on, fellow mums. Let’s down tools over Christmas – put our feet up with a mulled wine and let someone else take care of the last-minute shopping, the stuffing of stockings, and the supervision of “sugar-hyped children”. Maybe then people will realise how much “motherhood matters”.