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Gender Equality

Gender Equality in Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic country and has Nordic-style gender laws in place with long maternity and paternity leave and affordable childcare. Most women return to work after childbirth.

Both parents have equal rights, maternity and paternity leave is split between parents. Childcare is subsidized by the government and available to children from the age of one, it is significantly cheaper from the age of two when children can attend preschool and free after the age of six when most children start primary school. Education is free in Iceland, even at the university-level although there are also private options which charge tuition fees.

Iceland is in the first place worldwide in terms of gender equality according to the World Economic Forum, a spot it has held since 2009. The adjusted gender pay gap is 4,5%, according to Statistics Iceland.

In June, 2017, the Equal Pay Standard was legalized in Iceland, forcing all employers with more than 25 staff members to prove that they pay men and women the same salary for the same work or face fines. It will be fully in force in 2022. This is a unique law worldwide, and a step toward equal rights for women in the workplace.

Gay Rights

Iceland is generally a good place to be gay, with many people showing up for the Pride Parade in August and another celebration planned midwinter by the gay-friendly travel organiser Pink Iceland: the Reykjavik Rainbow Winter Pride. We have a small, inclusive, tolerant and friendly society.

Gay marriage is recognised in Iceland and has been since 2008 although priests can personally decide whether they will perform the ceremony for a gay couple (most do).  Since 1996, gay people were allowed to cohabit in a but this was more limited and did not allow them the right to reproduce through artificial insemination. Now, marriages and cohabitations offer the same rights, regardless of sexual orientation.

Gay couples are also allowed to adopt children in Iceland since 2006 although very few countries allow children to be adopted by gay couples which limits this option in practice. At present, they can adopt within Iceland and from Columbia.

The first openly lesbian prime minister in the world, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, served as prime minister of Iceland from 2009 to 2013.

The LGBTQI+ community in Iceland is represented in its fight for equality by Samtökin 78 – The National Queer Organization of Iceland.