Women in Iceland held their yearly protest against the gender pay gap on 24 October, the national Women's Day Off.

Female employees marched out of their jobs at 2.38pm, the time at which they stop receiving compensation for an eight-hour work day compared to men's pay. Hundreds of women then congregated in Austurvöllur square in central Reykjavik at 3.15pm where they demonstrated for full equality.

Women's Day Off was first celebrated on 24 October 1975, when 90% of women in the country went on strike for the day, refusing to work, cook, clean the house and taking care of the children to vindicate the importance of their role in society.

Thirty years later, women decided to resume the tradition, but leaving work at the time when they no longer perceive pay in comparison to men to highlight the gender pay gap. In 2005, the women came out at 2.08pm. In the past 11 years, women have gained half an hour, an average of three minutes a year.

Iceland is often perceived to be a beacon of gender equality, having now topped the yearly World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index for seven consecutive years. In terms of wage equality, women in Iceland earn 86% of what their male colleagues are paid for their same job.

While this is still above the European average of 16.6%, Iceland does not make the top 10 in the WEF index gender pay gap criteria and, according to Icelandic trade unions, the difference in total income of men and women is at almost 30% as women tend to do jobs that are less well paid and do more part-time work than men.

Around the world, the progress in filling the gap is very slow, with the WEF estimating that it could take 118 years to achieve wage equality. At Iceland's pace, it would take just over 50 years – but even this is still too slow.

"No one puts up with waiting 50 years to reach a goal," Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, president of ASÍ, the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, told national broadcaster RÚV. "It doesn't matter whether it's a gender pay gap or any other pay gap. It's just unacceptable to say we'll correct this in 50 years. That's a lifetime."