There’s a reason why Iceland is ranked number one for gender equality by the World Economic Forum. It’s because Icelandic government officials have taken a proactive approach towards making gender-based discrimination illegal.
But despite their best efforts, the gender pay gap still stubbornly persists. And so lawmakers are now looking to introduce a new piece of legislature that would require employers to provide evidence of equal pay.
“The time is right to do something radical about this issue,” said Thorsteinn Viglundsson, Minister of Iceland’s Social Affairs and Equality. “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 sweeping new measure comes in response to the government’s goal of eradicating the gender pay gap by 2022. It’s an ambitious objective, but Mr. Viglundsson thinks that it can be done.
“You have to dare to take new steps, to be bold in the fight against injustice,” he said.
The new measure has the support of Icelandic Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, who has long declared that, “gender equality benefits us all.” Benediktsson spoke about the plan in New York yesterday, where he attended an International Women’s Day conference.
While other countries have introduced similar measures, none of them have implemented these laws on a national scale. For example, in America, the state of Minnesota has a gender pay equity law. However, it is not a federal mandate.
And so it is, Iceland will become the first country in the world to require employers to provide evidence that they are paying their male and female employees equally. It’s seen as a huge win for gender rights activists. In fact, feminist leaders are hoping that Iceland will inspire other countries to introduce similar laws.