All week on IMAGE.ie, we’ve been championing extraordinary women. On Wednesday – International Women’s Day – we spoke at length about the continued fight for equality; how we have to fight for equal rights, equal pay and equal control of our bodies. So it seems fitting that we look around at the women in our neighbouring countries – how are they fairing? Our eyes frequently turn to Iceland – well, it does have some of the most stunning scenery in the world and the Northern Lights – because they are doing things the right way. It’s the third happiest country in the world, crime rates are low and they’ve devoted time to ensuring their young people are encouraged in every way to being creative and fulfilled by a starting series of positive social movements.
But the tip of the iceberg is that now they are truly taking active steps to ensuring there’s equal pay between both genders. To coincide with International Women’s Day, Iceland has become the first country to make it compulsory for firms to prove that all employees, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity or sexuality, are paid fairly for the work they do.
The pioneering new law, which aims to be introduced by 2020, dictates that every company with 25 or more employees must have a certificate demonstrating pay equality.
Gender equality benefits all of us,” said Iceland’s prime minister Bjarni Benediktsson. “There is a standard which we have already taken up, but not all are following it.” This is true; Iceland is not the first country to bring in such legislation – Switzerland has something similar, though not mandatory and the US state of Minnesota requires businesses contracted by or seeking contracts with the government to prove equality – but they are apparently the first nation to make equal pay documentation mandatory across both private and public companies. And though the World Economic Forum ranked Iceland number one in terms of gender equality in the world, Icelandic women still earn 14 to 18 percent less than their male counterparts. “We may rank number one in the world at the moment, but the job is not done still,” Benediktsson stressed on International Women’s Day.
“You have to dare to take new steps, to be bold in the fight against injustice.” We couldn’t agree more.
Suddenly Iceland seems an (extra) attractive place to set up home.