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  • Today, woman around the globe have less access to power, wealth, and education than men.

  • But one tiny island is leading the world in bridging these gaps.

  • Iceland is pioneering ways to get more mothers back to work, to root out gender stereotypes, and to close the pay gap.

  • It's a human rights issue, isn't it?

  • Paying the same wage for equally valuable jobs.

  • Could Iceland inspire the world to solve one of its greatest problems?

  • Equality is absolutely the key to everything.

  • Iceland: best place to be a woman?

  • Iceland has topped gender equality rankings for nearly a decade.

  • One of the secrets to their success: start early.

  • This kindergarten in the capital of Reykjavik focuses on challenging extreme gender stereotypes before they take root in boys and girls.

  • For boys, for example, always being strong, always decisive, always taking charge, they will end up bullying, fighting, breaking rules.

  • We do it with the girls as well!

  • If you're always helpful, caring, thinking about others, always looking at a friend for acceptance, you will have forgotten about yourself.

  • We need to get away from the extreme qualities. We need to get more in the middle, all of us.

  • It's a mission that's led to the creation of 17 schools across this tiny country.

  • All focused on developing a healthy balance of characteristics in both sexes.

  • Girls and boys are separated to allow girls to nurture traits traditionally viewed as masculine, like being bold, independent, and taking risks.

  • And boys are given time to learn traits traditionally viewed as feminine.

  • Like being more group oriented, empathetic, and caring.

  • And the signs are that this is working.

  • Research suggests that in later years, children from this school have a greater understanding of gender equality when compared to children from other schools.

  • There is nothing like a quick fix to this huge inequality in the world.

  • But if we all do a little bit here and there and there... yes, then at last we will get some results.

  • Iceland is also promoting gender equality by encouraging fathers to share the childcare burden with mothers.

  • In 2000, it introduced what is known as a Daddy Quota.

  • Three months Statutory Paternity Leave.

  • It's an allowance that goes much further than most other countries in the world.

  • Here, over 70 percent of fathers take up the full 3 months leave.

  • Why?

  • Because the state covers 80 percent of his salary during this period, up to a cap of $4,600 a month.

  • One beneficiary of this generous system is Igor Bianason, who's looking after his son Vala.

  • Igor believes the high cost of the Daddy Quota to tax payers is justified because it helps get more women in to work.

  • Imagine you went hiring someone for a new position... you had applicants from a man and a woman.

  • You would be much less likely to take into the equation... that the woman could have a child in the future and go on leave because... the man is also going to do that.

  • So it does create a more equal field out there.

  • But even in Iceland, men are still paid nearly 6 percent more than women for similar work.

  • This year, Iceland became the first country in the world to pass legislation, not just to expose, but to tackle the gender pay gap.

  • Companies with over 25 employees, like Reykjavik Energy, now have to prove they are paying men and women equally for similar jobs.

  • Every job at the company must be measured against a set of criteria.

  • This produces a score.

  • For jobs with the same score, workers must be paid the same.

  • When Reykjavik Energy used this pay calculator, the inequalities came into sharp and immediate focus.

  • We noticed that there was a pay gap there between the unskilled workers that were outside and the unskilled workers inside.

  • The outside unskilled workers are mainly men and the unskilled workers inside, that's the cleaning staff, the staff in the kitchen, that's mostly women.

  • What's important to keep in mind is the gender pay gap.

  • It's not there because there's a couple of evil men making decisions to pay women less.

  • It's this unconscious bias that we all have.

  • We place more value on traditionally male dominated jobs.

  • The company rectified this by raising the wages of it's female employees.

  • Critics of the law point out there will be significant financial consequences for companies as they rectify their pay inequalities.

  • But many argue this is a necessary price to pay.

  • It's a human rights issue, isn't it?

  • Paying the same wage for equally valuable jobs.

  • Having a law that requires companies to have this, it makes everyone accountable.

  • Gender equality will be an ever more pressing challenge for wealthy countries across the world.

  • Could the ambitious measures being tested in Iceland provide practical solutions?

Today, woman around the globe have less access to power, wealth, and education than men.

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The best place to be a woman? | The Economist

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    April Lu posted on 2019/03/18
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