Iceland Culture: Gender Equality

We depart for Iceland tomorrow night (10/29)! Here’s a teaser of a cultural story Michelle is pursuing. Follow Columbia students’ journey, which begins October 30, on the Iceland Airwaves 2013 blog.

Iceland, a country widely known for its liberal freedoms has also been acknowledged as one of the most feminist countries in the world. This could be due to the country’s former Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who has been outspoken about her lesbianism. A few years ago she shut down every strip club and banned a business from gaining revenue from worker nudity. Katrin Juliusdottir, Iceland’s prime minister of industry has also been a strong voice for women’s rights.

According to the The Global Gender Gap Report 2012, the two previous years Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s report on equality between the sexes. Newsweek has also named it the best place in the world for women, looking at health, education, economics, politics and justice.

According to research from the Centre of Gender Equality, “The financial situation of single women and single mothers has gotten worse. In Iceland women account for 91 percent of single parents and 77 percent of single parents have difficulty making ends meet.”

“According to a study in 2008 the gendered pay gap was 16.3 percent,” and, “A recent study shows that men are 90% of CEOs, Executive managers and board members of companies with 50 or more employees, yet fewer men graduate than women from the University of Iceland.”

Because Icelandic women are still being paid around 10 percent less than men, acampaign run by the Commercial and Office Workers’ Trade Union, VR, set up a temporary discount of exactly that much for all female customers at major shops.

We’ll talk to Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association (IWRA) and Hugrún R. Hjaltadóttir of Centre for Gender Equality who’ll shed light on how the country’s past is affecting the current and the future of its gender equality and some of the problems the country is still facing.

This unique country also hosts many different marches for women. This story will explore how women from Iceland feel about this subject, whether or not Iceland’s gender equality is as good as it looks in writing.


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