Under new rules that came into action on 1 January, all companies and government agencies in Iceland employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Any employer found to be in violation and fails to prove pay parity will face fines.
‘It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,’ said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association. ‘We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now, but we still have a pay gap.’
The pay gap in Iceland is currently 14 to 18 per cent, which already makes it the globe’s most gender-equal country, as ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for nine years in a row.
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To put Iceland’s progress towards equality in a global perspective, according to the WEF report for 2016, it is one of only five countries that has closed its gender pay gap by more than 80 per cent, along with Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the only non-Nordic country to achieve such a high score, Rwanda.
‘When it is no longer news to have women in leading positions, then—and only then—will we have gender parity,’ said Bjarni Benediktsson, the former prime minister of Iceland, speaking on International Women’s Day last year.
He also added that the country planned to eliminate the gender pay gap by 2022, something it is now a huge step closer to thanks to the laws brought in by its newly-elected prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the country’s second female leader in a decade.
Upon her election, Jakobsdottir stated that her government’s emphasis will be on equality of the sexes, the treatment of sexual offences in Iceland, LGBT rights and welcoming more refugees to Iceland.
With the new gender pay policy in place already, 2018 has the potential to be a progressive year for the small island nation.
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