Iceland welcomed the new year by officially becoming the first country in the world to force employers to pay its employees in the same role equally, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or anything else.
The new law, which was signed by the former prime minister of Iceland and announced on International Women’s Day last year, is unique in that it requires all companies with 25 employees or more to have a certificate and file annual disclosures to prove that employees in the same position are being paid the same.
In addition, a new measure was introduced that requires companies with more than 50 employees to ensure that at least 40% of the people present on their boards are women.
Women in Iceland currently earn about 14 percent less than men, but the country hopes that will no longer be the case by 2022, and laws like this will help. Iceland also currently ranks as the top country for women in politics, with 47.6 percent of parliamentary seats going to women. The country elected a female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, just last year. The World Economic Forum has also named Iceland the top country for global equality for nine years running.
"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," Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said last year when the equal pay bill was signed.
"I think that now people are starting to realize that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods," Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association 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 realize that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more."