Iceland Just Made the Gender Pay Gap Illegal

The Nords are showing us how it’s done! 💪🏾

Iceland has legalised gender equality. That’s right, kid – it’s illegal to pay men more than women, according to Al Jezeera.

Despite the rumours floating around the Internet, the gender pay gap is not a myth.

Women are disproportionately paid far less than men for the same position. Women are officially more educated than men but still face barriers like sexism and misogyny in the workplace.

The gender gap is a hot topic of conversation. Most women in all industries are paid significantly less than male counterparts for the same job.

Erasing Gender Pay Gap by 2022

That’s why Iceland’s move is huge. The country is making history through the legislation that enforces the law by penalising companies who perpetuate gender inequality.

Iceland isn’t the first country to prohibit the gender wage gap, though. The US Equal Pay Act of 1963 takes that title. But Iceland has maintained the smallest gender wage gap in the world for the past nine years according to the World Economic Forum. The WEF says it will take 83 years to close it so Iceland is getting ahead and playing their part.

‘Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that,’ Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said when the bill was signed on International Women’s Day last year.

Women in Iceland earn 14 to 18% less than men in 2016, according the World Economic Forum report. The law now says that companies with 25 or more employees must file an annual disclosure report that confirms people in the same position are being paid the exact same amount.

The law has also created a quota where companies employing more than 50 people or more must feature at least 40% on the board.

The Icelandic government is currently dedicated to erasing gender-pay inequality completely by 2022.

Where Does SA Stand?

Currently, South Africa is ranked 19 in the World Economic Forum report for gender inequality. The countries with the most gender equality are Iceland, Norway, Finland and Rwanda. At the bottom of the list are Syria, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.

According to Africa Check, South African women earn 23% less than men in comparison to Iceland’s 14%. Supporting that estimate, Stats SA conducted a survey in 2015 that found men earn an average income of R3 500 per month while women earn R2 700. The National Income Dynamic Study also calculated the gender wage gap at 25%.

So, we’ve got a long way to go but it’s encouraging to see it’s definitely possible.

With #TimesUp gaining momentum and the decades of activism towards gender equality finally becoming a reality, closing the gender pay gap could be sooner than we think.

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