The best place to be a woman? | The Economist

In the battle for gender equality, Iceland is at the head of the world. The tiny island is an innovative way to reduce the pay gap between men and women, eliminate stereotypes and allow more mothers to get back to work.

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With the support of Mishcon de Reya

Today, women around the world have less access to energy wealth and education than men – but a small island leads the world to fill these gaps. Iceland is looking for ways to get more mothers back to work, to eliminate sexist stereotypes and to narrow the pay gap.

Could Iceland encourage the world to solve one of its biggest problems?

Iceland has been leading the gender equality ranking for nearly a decade. One of the secrets of their success? Start early. This kindergarten located in the capital, Reykjavik, strives to combat extreme sexist stereotypes before they root in boys and girls. This is a mission that led to the creation of 17 schools in this small country, all focused on developing a healthy balance of characteristics of both sexes. Girls and boys are separated to allow girls to maintain traits traditionally perceived as masculine, such as being bold, independent and taking risks. And boys have time to learn the traits traditionally considered feminine, such as being more group-oriented, empathic and caring – and the signs are that it works. Research suggests that children in this school will better understand gender equality compared to children in other schools.

Iceland also promotes gender equality by encouraging fathers to share the burden of childcare with mothers. In 2000, he introduced what is called a daddy quota – a three-month statutory paternity leave. This allocation goes much further than most other countries in the world. More than 70% of fathers take three months off here. Why? Because the state covers 80% of a salary during this period, up to a maximum of $ 4,600 a month. Egill Bjarnson, one of the beneficiaries of this generous system, takes care of his son Valer. Egill thinks that the high cost of Dad's quota for taxpayers is justified because it allows more women to work.

But even in Iceland, men still receive nearly 6% more than women for similar work. This year, Iceland became the first country in the world to adopt legislation aimed not only at exposing but also at reducing the pay gap between men and women. Companies with more than 25 employees such as Reykjavik Energy now have to prove that they are paying men and women equally for similar jobs. Every job in the company must be measured against a set of criteria – this produces a score. For jobs with the same score, workers must be paid in the same way. When Reykjavik Energy used this compensation calculator, the inequalities became obvious and immediate.

The company rectified the problem by raising the wages of its employees. Critics of the law point out that companies will suffer significant financial consequences if they correct their pay inequalities – but many argue that it is a price necessary to pay. Gender equality will be a growing challenge for rich countries around the world. Could the ambitious measures tested in Iceland provide practical solutions?

What are the forces that determine people's lives and work and how power is used in the modern era? NOW AND NEXT reveals the pressures, projects and likely tipping points for lasting global change. Understand what is really transforming the world today – and find out what lies ahead tomorrow

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