by Megan Monahan – Staff Writer
Iceland’s taking a leap forward for women’s equality by making it illegal to underpay woman with a possible fine of five hundred dollars to any company who does.
Worldwide many are applauding Iceland for becoming the First Country in the World to require equal pay for women. This plan has been coming to action since March of 2017 with Iceland’s Prime Minister Bjarni Bendeiktsson stating on last years International Women’s Day that, “Gender quality benefits all of us.” The law is the first of its kind at the National level and applies to all countries with more than 25 employees. Companies must undergo certification every three years to ensure that their pay policies follow the rules. “There is a standard which we have already taken up,” said Bendeiktsson, “but not all are following it.”
Many are speaking up about the new legislation praising Iceland for its step toward women’s equality. American tennis player Billie Jean King stated that, “Iceland again leading in the quality movement. A new Female Prime Minister, and a Parliament where nearly half of its members are women. Equal representation benefits everyone!” King is not the only one praising Iceland’s efforts. CEO Sam Smethers, a women’s rights supporter said that equal pay “isn’t just about women’s interests.” She emphasized that “Holding women back holds our economy back. Tackling gender inequality and discrimination is good for business and for all of us.”
The United States is trying to follow in Iceland’s footsteps and is attempting to close the wage gap. Some of these attempts have been successful, however the wage gap still remains wide. In January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the most recent date showed that women were still earning “83 percent of men’s median weekly earnings,” which is a point two percent increase from 2012. The only state that is taking strong effort in trying to close the wage gap is Minnesota. Minnesota has its own gender pay equity law that has been in place since December 31, 2012, however it is yet to prove a major difference in the wage gap.