Since the ash from that unpronounceable volcano cleared in 2010, Iceland’s tourism has risen by an astonishing 31 percent, thanks in part to cheap layover flight deals and the popularity of Game of Thrones. But the Nordic Island’s real power lies in promoting equality in government and every day life. As the rest of the world talks endlessly about fairness between the sexes, Iceland is getting things done. Here are six recent news stories that prove Iceland is one of the most gender-progressive places on the planet.
1. Iceland will be the first country to require that companies prove they’re paying men and women equally
Trust Iceland to straight-up demand accountability measures on pay equity. The government announced Wednesday — International Women’s Day — that it will introduce legislation requiring all employers with more than 25 staff to obtain certification which confirms they’re giving men and women equal pay for equal work. This will make them the first nation to require certification for both public and private employers.
2. Women now make up nearly half of Iceland’s Parliament
In October’s national election, women won 30 of the Parliament’s 63 seats, making Iceland’s government one of the most equal in the world.
3. A Nordic beauty queen refused to be body shamed
When Miss Grand International pageant organizers told Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir she’d have a better shot at winning if she ate less, the former national gymnast quit immediately. Not only that, she posted her resignation letter to Instagram, exposing the Las Vegas pageant’s body-shaming ways.
4. Thousands of women walked out of work to fight for equal pay
Iceland’s pay gap may be half of Canada’s (they make about 14 percent less than men, compared to 28 percent here), but women there are determined to close the gap entirely. On Oct. 24, thousands went home from work at 2:38 pm — the moment they began working for “free” in relation to their male counterparts. The protest is something of an tradition: In 2005, women left work at 2:08 pm and in 2008, 2:25 pm. Seems like it’s working.
5. An MP breast fed during debate period
“I either had to tear the baby girl off me and leave her crying with the MP sitting next to me, or just take her with me,” said Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, chair of Iceland’s parliamentary Judicial Affairs and Education Committee when asked to comment on the infant attached to her breast during a recent immigration debate.
6. Iceland topped the Global Gender Gap Report
For the sixth year in a row, the land of Bjork and black sand beaches ruled the annual World Economic Forum report, which studies gender equality across politics, education, health and the economy in 114 countries. Canada ranked 35th on the same list.