Iceland becomes first country to make the gender pay gap illegal

Iceland has become the first country in the world to make it illegal for men to earn more money than women for doing the same job.

Under the new legislation that came into effect on 1 January, companies and government agencies with more than 25 employees will be required to obtain government certification for their equal-pay policies. Those failing to demonstrate pay equality will be required to pay fines.

Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member 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,

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

The notion was supported by Iceland’s previous prime minister Bjarni Benediktsson and is now strengthened by the country’s new leader, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Upon her election, Jakobsdottir stated that her government’s emphasis will be on equality of the sexes, the treatment of sexual offences in Iceland, LGBT rights and welcoming more refugees to Iceland.

The legislation was also supported by Iceland’s governments opposition, in the country’s parliament, where nearly 50 per cent of members are women.

Iceland has consistently been ranked as the best in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum for nine years in a row, scoring highly for political empowerment and economic participation.

The pay gap in Iceland is currently 14 to 18 per cent, making it the globe’s most gender-equal country and is one of only five countries that has closed its gender pay gap by more than 80 per cent, along with Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the only non-Nordic country to achieve such a high score, Rwanda.

The UK came in 15th place in 2017, with a 16.9 per cent pay gap between men and women.

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