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Proposed Law Means Women May Soon Be Guaranteed Equal Pay In Iceland

This would cement Iceland's status as most equal country in the world.

Iceland may soon make history as the first country to require that all companies prove they pay men and women equal salaries for the same work. This groundbreaking announcement came on what else? International Women’s Day on March 8. The Icelandic government plans to introduce legislation to this effect later this month.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson says he hopes to narrow the wage gap by 2022—a major milestone that’s just five years out, should the law became a reality. On average, Icelandic women earn 14 to 18 percent less than men—a gap that’s too high for Benediktsson, who’s quoted as saying, “We may rank number one in the world at the moment, but the job is not done still.”

Here’s a look at how others in and outside the country will be impacted:

  • The law would require proof of equal pay, regardless of ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.
  • All employers with more than 25 employees would have to obtain a certification of proof every three years.
  • Iceland is now encouraging other European countries to follow suit.

New data still shows a huge divide in how the world views working women compared to working men. In a global survey by Ipsos MORI, a British market research organization, one in five men and women believe females are inferior to males. That percentage increases to nearly 50 percent in certain countries. In the same survey, women were asked to what extent they agreed with the following statement: “In my country, I have full equality with men and the freedom to reach my full dreams and aspirations.”

Check out their answers below: 

gender equality chart 2
Ipsos MORI

In the United States, progress is being made. Yet, as of 2014, women still earned under 83 percent of men’s median weekly earnings. The wage gap varies by occupation. Women are much closer to earning the same salaries as men in fields like construction (91 percent) and food prep (90 percent). But in the legal field, for example, women are way behind earning just 56 percent of their male coworkers’ median weekly earnings.

us women jobs
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Don’t be surprised if the law passes in Iceland. Iceland is already the world leader in gender equality according to the World Economic Forum. And the law has widespread support in Parliament, which is also referred to as the most equal in the world, with women filling nearly half the seats. In the country’s national elections last year, women won a record 30 seats in the governing body and now account for 48 percent of the governing body. (By comparison, women make up about 20 percent of the U.S. Congress.) Now that’s some girl power.