Iceland Becomes First Country to Legalize Equal Pay


Burgandy Basulto is a Content Writer at NAWRB. She has a bachelor’s degree in both English and Philosophy, and a master’s degree in Philosophy. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves running, kickboxing, watching films, trying new restaurants she finds via Yelp, and experiencing other cultures during her travels.

This Monday, Iceland became the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men, a tour de force for gender equality in the workplace. The world’s most gender-equal country for the past 9 years, ranked by the World Economic Forum, is utilizing legislation to eliminate the gender pay gap after successfully closing 70 percent.

In 2016, women in Iceland were making 14 to 18 percent less than men. To address the remaining gender pay gap, the legislation was first proposed on International Women’s Day in March, and was supported by both of the country’s political parties. Iceland’s lawmakers currently have equal representation of men and women.

Iceland’s active efforts to enforce gender equality and increase opportunities for women is an inspiring example for other countries still fraught with inequity. The United States, for example, lags behind Iceland at No. 49 for gender equality. The nation was ranked No.45 just last year, indicating that gender inequality worsened in 2017.

According to the Pew Research Center, professional women in the United States earn 83 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, despite comprising more than half of the labor force. As the NAWRB Women in the Housing Ecosystem report reveals, women in the workplace are forced to overcome a pervasive gender gap, unconscious biases that inhibit advancement, and a lack of mentors to guide them on their way to the C-suite.

Iceland’s new legislation is a triumph not only for the country, but also for gender equality across the globe. Individuals, corporations, government entities, and more, can follow suit in forging a path toward a new standard of equal pay for women’s economic growth.  

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