2018 started off with a major change in Iceland.
According to ELLE, Iceland made it illegal to pay women less than men as of Jan. 1, 2018, becoming the first country in the world to “make equal pay the law.” As for the specifics of the law, ELLE reports that it mandates “companies that employ more than 25 people are obliged to obtain a government certificate showing their pay equality policies,” and if they don’t, they will be hit with a fine.
The move to create a more level playing field in the country follows their 2017 announcement of the legislation on International Women’s Day, says ELLE, following through on the year-old promise and asserting their position as a worldwide leader in gender equality.
But their efforts to create a more gender-equal society don’t end there: ELLE says the law is part of an effort to close the gender pay gap completely by 2022.
Former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson perhaps put it best at the Global Leaders’ Meeting in 2015 when he said, “Men cannot sit idly by when issues such as gender-based violence and the gender pay gap are being discussed. These are not only women’s issues. These are issues of general human rights.”
Iceland is leading the way for women to achieve equal pay in the workplace.
According to Fortune, the country marked International Women’s Day by “becoming the first country in the world to require that businesses prove they offer equal pay to their employees.”
Mandatory for both public and private companies, Fortune says the law mandates that all companies that employ more than 25 staff members to secure a certificate that confirms their commitment to pay equity “‘regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or nationality.'”
With Iceland pioneering this move toward pay parity, let’s hope other countries begin to follow suit.
Gendered pay discrepancies are rampant all over the world; according to Business Insider, New Zealand has the most “equal” pay gap, with women earning about 5 percent less than men, while women in the United States earn about 18 percent less than men and women in South Korea earn a whole 37 percent less than men as of a 2015 report.
While the effects of the wage gap are felt around the world, women in Iceland decided recently that it was time to take action in their home country.
According to Women in the World, women decided to leave their workplace on Monday, Oct. 24 exactly at 2:38 p.m. — a time beyond which unions and women’s organizations have calculated women essentially work for free due to the country’s 14 to 18 percent pay gap. Thus, female workers decided they would only work for the hours they’d be getting paid and left once their work didn’t merit any further pay.
While Women in the World explains that the country has been otherwise rather progressive, electing the world’s first female president in 1980 and passing “landmark” parental leave legislation in 2000, closing the pay gap seems to be the one thing still plaguing the female workers of Iceland.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a gender pay gap or any other pay gap,” said Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labor, reports Women in the World. “It’s just unacceptable to say we’ll correct this in 50 years. That’s a lifetime.”