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Nov. 7, 2016, could have been a day like any other in France. Except it wasn't because thousands of women had a plan.

At precisely 4:34 p.m., all over the country, thousands of women walked out of their jobs. It wasn't violent. There wasn't a big scene. But it was lively and organized and meant to prove something big.

Feminist publication Les Glorieuses planned this organized protest, rallying women to stand up against France's deplorable gender pay gap: Men in France make 15.5% more than women.


In the U.S., women earn around 80% of what men earn. Women of color earn even less. In the U.K., overall, women make 24% less than men a year. Women in Iceland overall make 72 cents for every dollar a man makes. In Mexico, women reportedly earn 60% (just over half) of what men bring in.

The publication figured out that women were essentially working for free after 4:34 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2016 until the end of the year. So at 4:34 pm, women left the office.

Image by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

City leaders got onboard in a show of solidarity too.

Anne Hidalgo, the city’s first female mayor, suspended a meeting of the city council at 4:34 p.m. at Paris City Hall. Staff at the famous Musée d’Orsay and several newspapers also stopped working at that precise time.

It was their brave way of saying: We're not standing for this any longer.

The organizers of this event say they were inspired by a similar protest held in Iceland on Oct. 24, 2016.

Women in Reykjavik and across Iceland left their jobs at 2:38 p.m. on the 24th for similar reasons. Rebecca Amsellem, founder of Les Glorieuses, told VICE News the French movement was, "of course strongly inspired by the Icelandic women.”

It also seems that Les Glorieuses tapped into a momentum that was there for the taking. There are over 13 million women who work in France. They make up almost half (48%) of the country's entire workforce. And now, many of these women are no longer sitting by — literally. They are standing up and walking out in a beautiful display.

What started as a local movement with a Facebook invite to make their voices heard, turned into a much bigger statement.

This is a powerful example of woman saying: Enough is enough.

Image by Martine Tekaya, with permission.

The walkout attracted worldwide attention, and it appears to be the start of a larger conversation that could change things in a big way. People shared images and voiced their support on social media using the hashtag #7novembre16h34.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Education Secretary Najat Vallaud-Belkacem also noticed. Valls tweeted, "Equality between women and men must be at the heart of the Republic. At all times."

And this week, as folks mourn Hillary Clinton's loss, France's walkout hits home for women in the U.S. in an especially poignant way too.

The realization that women are still fighting an uphill battle has never rung more true than it does now that Donald Trump won the presidential election.

What we see in this walkout, though, is that women know how to fight. France is proof. Iceland is proof. The U.S. is proof. We are strong, and with effort and organization, we can change things.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a much-needed movement that leads to change — and not just in France. Because we know the gender pay gap is a worldwide problem. Merci beaucoup, ladies!

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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