When you think of Iceland, a few things may spring to mind. The Northern Lights, a rugged landscape peppered with geysers, glaciers and volcanoes, an often casual attitude towards sex and dating, and perhaps, depending on how woke you are, gender equality. The Nordic island nation is the most gender-equal country in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, a title it has boasted for nine consecutive years.
There are numerous explanations for its pole position: women's near-equal participation in the workforce thanks to childcare provision, thriving feminist movements having ensured issues like paternity leave and gender quotas remain at the forefront of public debate, and a cultural legacy of strong women – just look at all-female rap group Reykjavíkurdætur ("daughters of Reykjavík") – to name a few.
But the tiny country, with a population of around 340,000, is by no means a nirvana of equality. It may have passed a law in January putting the onus on bosses to prove they're paying women and men equally, but the pay gap persists. It currently stands at around 16%, more than 40 years since the groundbreaking women's strike of 1975, which saw 90% of all women go on strike for a day.
Immigrants and women of colour also face barriers and discrimination, yet their stories are often conveniently overlooked by people preferring to focus on what the country has got right. So what is daily life really like for women living in the most equal country in the world? Refinery29 asked five of them.
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