Iceland is the first country in the world to legally enforce equal pay. As of January 1, 2018 a law in Iceland has made it illegal to pay women less than men. In compliance with the law, companies employing more than 25 people are now obliged to obtain certification for demonstrating equal pay. If they fail to do so they will face fines.
Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera:
“The legislation 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.”
The Nordic country, home to more than 323,000 people, has been ranked the best in the world for gender pay equality by the World Economic Forum for nine years in a row now. The Global Gender Gap Report evaluates gender equality in a country using indicators including economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health and survival. The country aims to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. Pind added:
“We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap. This law is a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally.”
Despite an equal pay act that dates back to 1961, Icelandic women still earn, on average, between 14% and 20% less than men and that’s why they had to back up and enforce this issue with law. The new legislation was supported by Iceland’s centre-right coalition government, as well as the opposition – nearly 50 per cent of the lawmakers in parliament are women. Ms Aradottir Pind said:
“I think that now people are starting to realise that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods. 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.”
Pay inequality is quite a major issue. The UK reported an average 16.9% pay gap between men and women in 2017. It doesn’t make any sense why two people doing the same job would get paid different wages. Gender inequality is wrong. Hopefully, more countries follow in Iceland’s footsteps and make it illegal to pay men more than women too.