Despite all the recent strides toward equality, the gender pay gap is still a very real thing in America and beyond. Don’t believe me? Just look at how much Hoda Kotb is getting paid to co-host the Today show compared to how much Matt Lauer managed to rake in. But, as of January 1, Iceland is making it illegal for any company or organization to pay men more than their female counterparts. Companies with more than 25 employees must obtain a government certificate proving their equal pay policies or face a steep fine.
“It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,” Icelandic Women’s Rights Association board member Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind told Al Jazeera. “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.”
The law was first announced last year on March 8, which is International Women’s Day, and is supported by both political parties in Iceland’s parliament, where almost 50 percent of the lawmakers are women.
For the past nine years, the World Economic Forum has ranked the country the most gender-equal in the world. However, on average, Icelandic women still earned 14 to 18 per cent less than men in 2016. Which just goes to show that even under the best of circumstances, sometimes it takes good legislation to make a real, lasting change that impacts people across the board. Meanwhile, the American Association of University Women reports that in America in 2016, women earned just 80 percent of what their male counterparts did. Iceland’s government has committed to eradicating the pay gap entirely by 2022.
So, yeah, if you’re looking for a new place to move (or perhaps just visit), Iceland is sounding pretty good right about now.