Iceland's New Rules For Paying Men And Women Are The First Of Their Kind

“Women have been talking about this for decades."

New year, new equal pay standards for Iceland!

As of January 1, 2018, the Nordic nation instituted a country-wide equal pay policy that makes it illegal for men to be paid more than women. In other words, men and women working in Iceland must now earn the same amount of money for the same job. Such a forward-thinking measure is the first of its kind in the world, meaning Iceland is once again leading the way in progressive policies.

According to Al Jazeera, the new rules mandate companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people must obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Those who don't prove pay parity will face fines.


"The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organizations ... 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," Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, told the outlet.

"It's a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally," she 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."

Per the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report — which analyzes  the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment — Iceland already has the most gender equity of any country. A similar metric from the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, called the global Women, Peace, and Security Index, also bestowed top honors to Iceland, labeling it the best country to live in if you're a woman. Comparatively, the United States placed 22nd overall.

"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," Pind explained, noting that the Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020.

As ThinkProgress points out, it's no coincidence that such legislation is emerging from a country where nearly 50 percent of parliament is female. The direct correlation between female representation in government and laws and policies that benefit and protect women is hard to ignore, and can even be seen on the state level here at home.

In fact, Iceland's move for nation-wide parity of wages even drew praise from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said America must follow suit and "demand equal pay for equal work now, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality."

Believe it or not, equal pay between men and women is just the latest in a slate of progressive and effective policies Iceland has been enacting over the past several years. When the country was faced with a drug use crisis amongst teens over 20 years ago, policymakers in Iceland approached the problem by changing the way they thought about addiction, and now Iceland boasts the cleanest-living teens in Europe.

Cover image via Anna Durinikova / Shutterstock.


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