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Iceland became the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay women less than men


Iceland became the first country in the world to implement a law requiring equal pay for men and women.

Iceland's parliament, which is about 50 percent female, announced the legislation in March 2017, on International Women's day. It went into effect on Jan. 1 2018.

Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies.

Those that fail to prove pay parity will face fines.

"The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organizations ... evaluate every job that's being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally," said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association.

"It's a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally," she told Al Jazeera.

For nine years in a row, the World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland as having the world’s smallest gender-equality gap, and for about as long gender studies professor Gyda Margret Petursdottir has been asked how the Nordic island nation became such a paradise for women.

Her reply: “It isn’t.”

Iceland has a female prime minister and some of the world’s strongest laws on workplace equality and equal pay.

It also has one of Europe’s highest per-capita levels of reported rapes, according to statistics agency Eurostat, although legal definitions differ from country to country, complicating comparisons.


"We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap," said Pind.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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