Iceland is considered the top country in the world fort what concerns gender equality, women’s rights and discrimination. Now, it just became the first country to legalise equal pay: a new law, in fact, makes it illegal to pay men more than women. The legislation came into force on Monday, January 1st.
Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will now have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies, those that don’t will face fines.
Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, affirmed that the legislations “is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations … evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally […] It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally”.
Iceland have had a legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now, but a gap still exist. The country has a strong economy, based on tourism and fisheries. What is more, for the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum as the world’s most gender-equal country.
Since the reports began in 2006, Iceland has closed around 10 percent of its total gender gap, making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world.
The new legislation was supported by Iceland’s centre-right government, as well as the opposition, in a parliament where nearly 50 percent of all members are women.
Aradottir Pind further said: “Women have been talking about this for decades and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more”.
With this new regulation, the Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020. According to the latest World Economic Forum report, the five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden. In the United States women earn an average of 83 cents for each dollar earned by men, while in Italy the difference between men and women is more than 12 percent. Yemen, instead, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report.
So, that begs the questions: is the rest of the world doing something for equal pay? The answer is obviously yes, the problem may be found in the difficulties that other countries – above all European Member States and the United States – face in assessment of the exact application of their current regulations.