Iceland Becomes First Country In The World To Require Gender Pay Equality


Yesterday, Iceland became the first country in the world to introduce mandatory equal pay.

On International Women’s Day, the Nordic nation announced their plans to force companies to pay all employees the same regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.

The government will implement a new law that requires all companies with over 25 staff members to gain a certificate to prove equal pay within their ranks, according to the Independent.


Equality and Social Affairs Minister, Thorsteinn Viglundsson, said:

The time is right to do something radical about this issue.

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.


This kind of scheme has been introduced in Switzerland and the U.S state of Minnesota – but Iceland will be the first country to make pay equality mandatory in its law.

In October, thousands of Icelandic women walked out of their workplaces in a nationwide strike – much like the Women’s Strike organised yesterday – at 2.38pm to protest against earning less than men.

Due to the gender pay gap, after this time, women are essentially working without pay every typical eight-hour day, according to unions.


In response to the blatant gender inequality, the Icelandic government have committed to eradicating the gender pay gap by 2022. Should the law be passed, it is hoped it will be implemented by 2020.

Iceland has been ranked the most gender equal country in the world by the World Economic Forum eight years in a row. Unsurprisingly, this is down to the Icelandic mission for creating an equal society enshrined in law.

The country introduced a quota stating women must hold at least 40 per cent of the places on boards of companies with more than 50 employees.

Wikimedia Commons

However, Icelandic women still earn 14 to 18 per cent less than men, on average. Comparatively, the UK’s gender pay gap stands at 17.5 per cent; a shocking two per cent above the average OECD nation.

According to the WEF, we won’t reach gender parity for another 117 years – in other words, 2186 – so clearly, there is still much to be done to achieve equality.

In the meantime, we’d do worse than taking a leaf out of Iceland’s book.