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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?
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The best place to be a woman? | The Economist

8174 Folder Collection
April Lu published on March 19, 2019    Janine Kuo translated    Emily reviewed
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