Icelandic prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir (2019) described that, a public “campaign for women’s equality in Iceland” informed the government’s decision to set gender equality as a primary economic goal.
The Government instigated a gender mainstreaming and budgeting initiative in 2009, which allowed Iceland to lead the world in gender equality, according to the World’s Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap. The initiative assessed the gender impacts of budget measures and worked to take corrective action as needed. The Government’s Gender Budgeting Committee includes representatives from all ministries, but is led by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, in formal cooperation with the Ministry of Welfare. In every ministry, there is a steering group tasked with preparing the implementation programme for gender budgeting and policy measures are redesigned as necessary to improve gender outcomes.
Other policies promoting gender equality are:
- Parental Leave Policy: providing the same benefits to both parents, which include four months of parental leave each and two months of shared leave divided between parents. An important note is that leave not transferrable.
- Annual Equal Pay Certification: Obligatory for companies and institutions employing 25 or more workers, on annual basis. A bill of law about the Certification was passed by Parliament in 2017 and came into force in 2018. The Certification is based on the Equal Pay Standard, a tool that aims to eliminate the adjusted gender pay gap. It empowers employers to implement a management system of equal pay according to the principle of equal pay for equal work and work for equal value. It is believed that the Equal Pay Standard will be instrumental in eliminating the gender pay gap.
Iceland’s focus on Gender Equality is also reflected in the Icelandic Cabinet, which is comprised of five women and six men, compared to the global norm of one in five ministers being women.
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