Ranked by the World Economic Forum as the global leader on gender equality, Iceland has announced plans to fully address the gender pay gap and make it illegal to pay men more than women. The law, introduced by former social affairs and equality minister Thorstein Viglundsson, requires companies with 25 or more employees to confirm the relativity of equal pay for all staff, since it’s estimated that women in Iceland make 14-18% less than their male counterparts, alongside 18% in the UK and 20% in the US.
This is the first law of its kind in history that protects the career prospects of women and promotes progressive attitudes towards gender equality, something that Scandinavia prioritizes not only in the workplace but also in its schools and public spaces. The law will expose and punish companies who do not comply, and assess their workforce equality with official assessors from the Center for Gender Equality. The law stipulates that recertification will be arranged every three years.
Though this law will no doubt change the working lives of thousands of women and set an example for other leading nations in their examination of gender equality, there are a number of other elements that contribute to the gender pay gap, including patriarchal prejudice, but one of the main factors is child care, which is still seen by many as solely a female responsibility. Shifting attitudes towards parental responsibility and maternity and paternity leave will no doubt increase opportunities for women.
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