This thesis is a study of the position of women in
Icelandic society which incorporates historical and
contemporary perspectives. It is divided into three
sections, entitled Invisible Women, Visible Women and
The first part opens with an outline history of
Iceland from its settlement by the Vikings until the
beginning of the nineteenth century. Particular attention
is paid to the life of women, both aristocrats and those
of other classes and the gender-related division of labour.
This analysis is elaborated in the next chapter which
utilises census data from the area in which I carried
out fieldwork, to examine the form and functions of the
household and changes in women's role resulting from the
industrialisation of the society. The following two
chapters consider women's dual contemporary role as
housewives and wage earners, focussing on fish-factory
The section entitled Visible Women concerns The
Women's Day Off (Kvennafrfdagurinn) held in 1975,
when the majority of Icelandic women stopped work for
one day. The Day is described and the reasons for the
mass participation of the nation's women are analysed.
The final section of the thesis is a consideration
of those organisations which have campaigned on behalf
of Icelandic women. Chapter seven describes the women's
societies which developed in the nineteenth century, the
suffrage movement, women's trades unions and legislation
during this century which formally extended women's rights.
The final chapter analyses The Redstockings Movement
(RauOsokkahreyfingin), the Icelandic representative of the
modern feminist movement. Its inception, structure,
growth, development and relationship with other
organisations are examined.