Let’s All Move to Iceland!

Iceland’s football team, courtesy of Iceland Monitor

Well, have you heard? Iceland has become the first country to make it illegal to have a gender pay gap. Previously they had announced that they intended to eradicate it by 2022. And they are not just talking it up. They are actually doing something. I have long argued that only legislation will force the UK to achieve gender equality. Too many people in power here feel they have too much to lose if they ‘shifty up’ to allow the women equal access to power. Fine words butter no parsnips. Hooray for Iceland!

The new law came into effect on January 1st 2018. As the law is being enforced, both government offices and private business, employing more than 25 staff, will have to obtain a special government certification on the equal pay policies. If they don’t, they will get fined. And presumably lots of very negative publicity.

At the time of announcing the intention in March 2017, Iceland’s Equality and Social Affairs Minister, Thorsteinn Viglundsson said:

“Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that. The gender pay gap is, unfortunately, a fact in the Icelandic labour market and it’s time take radical measures; we have the knowledge and the processes to eliminate it,”

Iceland was also one of the first countries to elect a female head of state and there is a really charming programme, still available on the BBC Radio 4 website, of Lyse Doucet talking with Vigdis Finnbogadottir who held the post. Now 87, she was president for exactly sixteen years and remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country to date. “That’s what I have given to the girls of this country,” she says: “If she can, I can.”

Her legacy continues with nearly half of Iceland’s parliamentarians being female, an enviable position. Good news. Where Iceland leads, I hope we follow.

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Posted on January 10th, 2018 by

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