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About Gender Equality

The current legislation on gender equality:

More legislation applies to equality matters, notably: 

The Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender and the Act on the Administration of Matters Concerning Equality

The objective of the Equality Act is to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender and to maintain gender equality and equal opportunities for the genders in all spheres of society. All people shall have equal opportunities to benefit from their own enterprise and to develop their skills irrespective of gender. The term “gender” in this Act means women, men and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland, unless otherwise stated. This objective shall be reached by the following means, amongst others:

  1. by observing gender equality perspectives and working towards gender and equality mainstreaming in policy-making and decision-taking in all spheres of society,
  2. by working to secure equal influence of women and men in society,
  3. by specifically improving the position of women and increasing their opportunities in society,
  4. by working against pay discrimination and other forms of gender-based discrimination in the employment market, including by having companies and institutions fulfil the conditions of equal pay certification or equal pay confirmation,
  5. by enabling everyone, irrespective of gender, to reconcile their work and family life,
  6. by increasing education and awareness-raising on gender equality,
  7. by analysing statistics according to gender,
  8. increasing research in gender and equality studies,
  9. by working against gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment,
  10. by changing traditional gender images and working against negative stereotypes regarding the roles of women and men,
  11. by promoting gender-neutral classification of jobs,
  12. by focusing especially on the status of people whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland, and
  13. by working against multiple discrimination.

The Directorate of Equality is a special institution under the administration of the Prime Minister. Its role is defined in the Act on the Administration of Matters Concerning Equality, No. 151/ 2020. The institution handles administration of all matters covered by laws on equality, i.e. the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender, the Act on Equal Treatment Irrespective of Race or Ethnic Origin, and the Act on Equal Treatment on the Labour Market. Further information on the role of the Directorate of Equality can be found here.

The Prime Minister shall, every four years, submit to Alþingi a motion for a parliamentary resolution on a four-year gender equality action plan after having received proposals made by the ministries and after consultation with the Directorate of Equality. Discussions at the Gender Equality Forum shall also be taken into account. Parliamentary Resolution on a Gender Equality Action Programme for the period of 2020–2023 is the seventh of its kind. The progress of the action plan can be viewed at a dashboard set up by the Prime Minister’s Office. Each action on the action plan is directly linked with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the first time.

The State of Equality in Iceland

Important steps have been made towards gender equality in Iceland in past decades. Among achievements is the increased participation of women in politics, both at the parliamentary and municipal level. Important legislation has been passed to ensure a more equal society, such as legislation to increase the number of women in leadership positions, and to combat gender-based and sexual violence and harassment.

Iceland has one of the highest rate of women’s labour force participation in Europe. Despite of this gender segregation of the labour market remains persistent i.e. gender-based differences in educational and career choices vary greatly between women and men. The wage gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years, and this applies equally to income from work, the unadjusted wage gap, and the adjusted wage gap.

Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum‘s Global Gender Gap Index in previous years due to women‘s political participation, high level of education and equal access to health care among other factors. However, it is important to be aware that there are still inequalities and power imbalances that are not assessed in the Index.

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