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Girls & Women

Iceland Starts 2018 in Style by Making Gender Pay Gap Illegal

It’s 2018, and Iceland is taking its New Year’s Resolution very seriously. 

On Monday, Jan. 1, Iceland became the first country to officially codify equal pay for men and women — taking a major step toward closing the gender pay gap. The new law will require government offices and private businesses greater than 25 people to obtain a government certificate stating that they carry out equal pay policies, or else risk being fined or audited, BBC reported

According to the BBC, the law will extend not only to equal pay for women, but also to all individuals regardless of “race, religion, disability, occupational disability, age, and sexual orientation.” 

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Iceland has been named the top country for gender equality by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index nine years running. Despite this, women in the country made about 16% less than men, on average, in 2016, according to government statistics

"Women have been talking about this for decades and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, who is on the board of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, told Al Jazeera

Since 2006, when Iceland began to record gender wage gap statistics, the country has managed to close the gap by about 10%, according to Al Jazeera.  

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Read More: 7 Feminist Laws Iceland Has That the World Needs

Iceland is now the only country in the world to make equal pay for men and women compulsory, according to IB Times.

Other countries have, however, instituted laws aimed at reducing the gender pay gap. Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal all require “pay data reporting,” wherein employers are required to send gender data to the government, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think-tank. France and Sweden require employers to review their pay practices each year, and in Luxembourg, companies greater than 15 people are required to employ an “equality delegate” to oversee gender equality policies in the workplace. 

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The country aims to completely eliminate the gender gap by 2022, but the World Economic Forum estimates that it could take 170 years for gender pay inequality to be eliminated worldwide.