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04 Jan 2018

Iceland becomes world's first nation to criminalize gender pay gap

It is now illegal in Iceland to pay men more than women for the same amount of work.

In a remarkable move, the Nordic island, on January 1, became world's first country to ban gender-based pay discrimination.

The new law requires all firms and government organizations employing more than 25 people to obtain a government certificate, attesting their equal-pay policies.

Read on for more.

In context

Gender-based income disparity now illegal in Iceland


Iceland's new wage law faced little resistance

Supported by both Iceland's government and the opposition, the new wage law has had a smooth sailing, right from when it was introduced in March 2017 to the time it was cleared on Monday.

Particularly designed to make sure that both women and men get equal pay for equal work, the new legislature mandates fining offenders.

Global position

Iceland ranked world's most gender-equal country for nine years now

Iceland's new law sets an unprecedented example, especially when the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2016 declared that it would take another 170 years to achieve gender-based economic equality.

The Global Gender Gap Report has been ranking Iceland world's most gender-equal country for nine years now.

With 87% of its gender pay gap bridged in 2016, Iceland plans to completely eradicate it by 2020.

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India nowhere close to bridging gender pay gap anytime soon

According to WEF's Global Gender Gap Report for 2017, the five nations with the highest gender pay index are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden. Of the 144 nations evaluated, India stands shamefully at 108. War-torn Yemen is currently the worst performing country.


Why Iceland values gender equality so much?

Iceland is a world leader in almost every aspect of gender equality.

Currently, about 50% of its parliamentarians are women. In the last 50 years, it has had a female president for 20. Moreover, it achieved gender equality in health and education several years ago.

However, it is Iceland's small population (only 334,252) that makes it value its human resource irrespective of their gender.

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