Equality in Iceland
Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now. ― Joss Whedon
Propounded by the American philosopher John Rawls, equality is the idea of ensuring that every individual gets access to the same opportunities to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability. However, equality does not merely mean putting everyone in the same box. It respects the differences and accepts every individual as they are. Equality also recognises that historically certain groups of people with protected characteristics such as nationality, race, disability, gender and sexual orientation have experienced discrimination and works towards providing reparation through policies like reservation that helps them gain an equal footing in society.
Equality in Iceland
Today, it can be said that while equality in the world is not a truth, it is certainly an end goal that we all are working towards. To provide a reality check, organizations like the World Economic Forum, United Nations, etc. come up with world rankings based on several equality indicators to measure the performance of every country.
For the citizens of Iceland, it is a source of pride and honour to be declared the frontrunner in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index for the ninth year in a row, right since 2008. Financial independence is the key to liberation of women and ranking at the top of the gender equality index consecutively for almost a decade now is a confirmation of the successes achieved in recent times to promote equality in Iceland and works as an impetus to continue to work towards complete equality of status, influence and power among men and women in the country.
Gender equality in Iceland has not been achieved in a day. It took years of struggle and continuous efforts by some very strong women who refused to give up, along with their male allies.
The religious diversity of Iceland ended with the advent of Christianity when diverse groups of gods and goddesses was replaced by one monolithic God. Women were no longer deemed “good enough” to publicly represent God and were also denied voting rights. While women continued to protest for equality in Iceland, the situation persisted until critical mass of educated women broke the glass ceiling and made their way through forbidden territories during the Second Feminist Wave in the 1960s and the subject of equality in Iceland began influencing the country’s politics.
According to Magnea Marinosdottir and Rosa Erlingsdottir of Iceland’s Ministry of Welfare, “…incremental progress can firstly be attributed to the solidarity of women human rights defenders challenging and protesting the monopoly of power in the hands of men and the power of men over women. The success can be attributed to women taking power and creating alternatives to the male dominant ‘truths’ and making the invisible realities of women visible.”
Gender equality is key to the prosperity of a community. In this case, Iceland is definitely showing the way to the world.
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