Iceland makes it illegal to pay men more than women

Iceland has become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women

Iceland has become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women.  

Under the new legislation which passed on Monday, companies and government agencies with more than 25 employees will be required to obtain government certification for their equal pay policies.

Officials had already agreed to end the gender pay gap by 2020. The new, however, would close that gap even sooner by holding companies responsible for equal pay.

Those who fail to demonstrate pay equality will face fines.

“It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera.

“We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now, but we still have a pay gap.”

The law came into effect on Monday, the first day of the year, but Iceland was already considered the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years, according to the World Economic Forum. The group’s Global Gender Gap report found that the country nearly closed more than 70% of its gender gap.  

 “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,” Aradottir Pind said. 

The legislation was backed by both political parties in the country’s parliament, where women make up 50% of its lawmakers Officials first proposed the new law on International Women’s Day, last March.

“We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace,” Thorsteinn Viglundsson, equality and social affairs minister, said in March. “It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that.”

Iceland's current Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir
Iceland's current Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir

It’s no surprise to some that Iceland is the first country to make strides in equal pay. The country not only has a parliament in which half of the legislators are female, but it also has a new female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir.

The country had its first female prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, in 2009 and its first female president in Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in 1980. 



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