As women across the U.S. protested the gender wage gap on International Women’s Day on Wednesday, Iceland Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson announced dramatic plans to combat gendered pay differences in his own country.
Already the world leader in gender equality according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index (the U.S., by comparison, is ranked 28th), Iceland had previously pledged to narrow the gender pay gap by 2020 and set quotas for the number of women on corporate boards. Despite progress, however, thousands of Icelandic women left work early in protest of the country’s 14 to 18 percent gender pay gap just four months ago.
At the HeForShe press launch this week, Benediktsson announced that parliament was working on another measure to narrow the gap — legislation that would require all firms with more than 25 employees to get certification verifying that pay equality was exercised within the company. He also presented Phumzile Mlambo, executive director of U.N. women, with a pink cake showcasing the organization’s logo and spoke about the importance of feminism in his role as Prime Minister.
“It’s about not being afraid of your feelings and expressing them,” said Benediktsson. “Being a politician, sometimes it is expected that you are the stereotype, but it’s also about showing you are a human being. At the end of the day, that’s the best way to relate to the people you are trying to get the message across to.”
The message appears to be working. After recent elections in October, Iceland’s parliament became 48 percent women — a figure that ranks Iceland’s parliament as the most gender equal in the world among countries without a quota system.
Read the full story at NBC News.