Iceland Makes It Illegal For Companies To Pay Men More Than Women

As of Jan. 1, the legislation said that any company or government agency with 25 or more staff members will “have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies,” according to Al Jazeera. Companies failing to comply with this law will face fines.

A board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, told Al Jazeera that the legislation is a mechanism to “ensure women and men are being paid equally.” She added that Iceland has had legislation in place saying men and women should be paid equally “for decades,” but a gender pay gap has persisted.

“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,” she said.

Iceland is the first country to execute such legislation. The country first announced the measure in March 2017 on International Women’s Day.

Currently, Iceland’s Parliament consists of nearly 50 percent female members. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked the nation as the world’s most gender-equal country for the last nine years, acting as “a leader on female political empowerment and a strong performer on wage equality.” The United States comes in at No. 49.

The WEF noted in its report that despite Iceland’s achievements toward equal pay, “its gender gap in the areas of economic participation and opportunity and educational attainment” have still widened over the years, following a global trend. The organization estimates that it will be a century before the overall gender gap worldwide is closed.GETTY IMAGES

The Icelandic Parliament building in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The Icelandic government has said it is committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2022.

“I think that now people are starting to realise that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods,” Aradottir Pind told Al Jazeera.

“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,” she added.