There’s been a lot of debate about what exactly feminism is, and if we try to approach it simply, since we can consider feminism as a movement which calls for equal rights for men and women. Many countries aren’t doing great in terms of this, and even if feminist laws are amended, it’s really hard to change mindsets that often say women should stay at home, do chores, and listen to their husbands.
But it’s not the 1900s! Things are going to change, and fast. And things are already changing in a very special place in the world…Iceland.
All About Feminism in Iceland
That’s right, it’s not just a small country that produces great musicians and beautiful, scenic landscapes. Iceland is also a country that has great respect for human rights, and, by extension, women’s rights. While it’s not perfect, Iceland as a country tries much more than many other countries in the world to establish a fair society. Women there might just be living with much more peace of mind than many of us!
So what is Iceland doing that’s so revolutionary in terms of women’s rights?
Some Icelandic history
In Iceland, centuries ago, women were left at home to manage the household, the finances…and everything basically, while their husbands were out at sea. By 1975, Icelandic women were sick of the lack of credit and pay they got, and the fact that they had no representation in government. They wanted dignity and respect for human rights.
There were many women’s rights movements around the world in the 1970s. Feminism around the world was growing as a movement, and Icelandic women joined in to stage a total strike. Even housewives joined in, refusing to cook or care for their children, to show how their work was not given any importance. 25000 women participated, which doesn’t seem like much to us, but which was 1/5th of Iceland’s female population at the time (it’s a small country).
Since then, Iceland has had many landmark moments in women’s history, like electing its first female president in the 1980s.
Let’s look at some of the other ways in which Iceland is a feminist country.
Feminist Laws in Iceland
- Iceland made gender equality a law
This kind of feminist laws should be amended in all countries. One of the reasons Iceland is a feminist country is that it has the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men, which was updated in 2008. While many countries have laws against discrimination, a lot of them are deliberately vague, and if a law isn’t direct about what’s wrong, it can be difficult to take someone to court for breaking it. Iceland directly addresses gender discrimination in the law, including issues like the wage gap and gendered violence.
- Companies must have a board made up of at least 40% women
Yes, it’s true, while many countries have leading companies which are heavily male-dominated, Iceland’s companies must have 40% of women on the board of companies, and this even extends to government councils. If any workplace has more than 25 employees, they must have a program to address gender equality. This type of feminist law will encourage women to work and
- It teaches gender equality in schools
This kind of feminist laws helps to deal with gender issues. Icelandic kids are probably getting the world’s best education, because they’re taught gender equality in their schools and in higher levels of education. They’re sensitised to issues like sexism from a very young age, which is definitely something many countries just ignore.
- It has a Ministry of Gender Equality
Sounds cool, right? Iceland is a feminist country because it’s not satisfied with where it’s at. It constantly strives to improve itself in terms of achieving true gender equality. This Ministry researches and revises Iceland’s approach to gender equality constantly.
We could all take a cue from the way Iceland handles its view of feminism and women’s rights. While feminism around the world has become a very complicated issue, Iceland has not allowed that to interfere with the fact that it has some major goals for human rights. Rather than allowing patriarchy to develop very early, it teaches its citizens quite early that gender equality is very important.
Maybe it’s time for you to take a trip to Iceland with your sister or mom, and see how cool it is. Not only do you get to see the northern lights, you also get to see how one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to human rights treats its citizens. Ask the women what they think of the laws and compare it to your home country. We should take inspiration from Iceland!