The Week (US)

Should we pay for housewives’ vacations?


Kristinn Haukur Gudnason

As the pandemic eases and people once more start planning vacations, said Kristinn Haukur Gudnason, the concept of “housewives’ leave” has again become a sore point. The idea that women homemakers should get paid time off, just like any other Icelandic worker, was enshrined in law in 1960, at the dawn of the modern women’s rights movement. Since then, each local town has sent the few dozen housewives who’ve applied on an annual little jaunt—sometimes to another part of Iceland, sometimes abroad. Last year, all such trips were canceled, along with the rest of Icelanders’ internatio­nal travel plans, and now that

borders are open, many officials don’t want to pay for what they see as a pointless perk from a sexist past that Iceland has long since left behind. “The leave is based on a 19th-century way of thinking and has nothing to do with equality,” said Gunnar Einarsson, mayor of Gardabaer. His council actually tried to refuse to pay for a holiday committee but was overruled by regional authoritie­s. Einarsson is not the only objector: Many lawmakers supported a bill to scrap housewives leave in 2017, but that legislatio­n was defeated. The beneficiar­ies certainly want to keep this perk: “Demand for housewife trips this year is soaring.”

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