It’s now illegal to pay men more than women in Iceland

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Susan Devaney

Iceland has become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay women less than men. 

From learning that the gender pay gap in the UK is getting worse for women in their twenties to discovering that women around the world will need to wait two centuries for the gap to officially close, last year taught us a lot about financial inequality.

But 2017 is now behind us and 2018 is off to a flying start for closing the gender pay gap – especially for women in Iceland.

By starting as they mean to go on, the country brought new legislation – that enforces equal pay between both genders - into place on the first day of 2018, according to Al Jazeera.

Under the new law, companies and agencies with more than 25 employees will have to obtain a government certificate as proof of providing equal pay throughout their business.

Any business which fails to do so will face a heavy fine. 

Iceland is home to around 323,000 people.

“The legislation is basically a mechanism for companies and organisations to evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera.

“It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally.

“We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap.”

Which is why the country, home to around 323,000 people, announced back in March last year on Women’s International Day that they would eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.

Is it any wonder then that the country has topped the World Economic Forum for gender equality for nine years in a row now? With the UK not even making the top 10 in 2017, coming in at 15th.

Images: Emma Hall / Tim Wright 


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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