Head of State IMPACT Champion

Bjarni Benediktsson

Iceland has come far in the quest for gender equality but we are yet to reach our goal of an equal world. Side by side, men and women can achieve a fairer, more prosperous society. Taking a stand for gender equality is the only way forward.

Impact Commitments


Close the gender pay gap by 2022.


With almost 80% of women active in the labor market, Iceland has one of the highest labor force participation rates in the world. Despite this progress, a gender pay gap persists: women are paid 5.7-18.3% less than men. Iceland will eliminate the gender pay gap by 2022, ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work. For the first time ever, the government will launch a top-to-bottom audit of the gender-based pay gap across all companies in Iceland—from the largest companies all the way to family-owned business. This year, the government will launch a multi-stakeholder action plan to include the state, local authorities, social partners and the private sector. The plan will use proven activities such as training and information campaigns as well as innovative new methods like the “Icelandic Standard for Equal Pay Management” certification for companies who can prove they pay their employees equally.


Achieve gender parity in the media by 2020


Today, men are over-represented in the media: the trend is most pronounced in computer games and film, but the glass ceiling persists across the sector. Research finds a link between women ‘behind the screen’ and women ‘on the screen’: films with a female director have more female characters than those with a male director. Additionally, research highlights the tendency of audiences to internalize the ‘norms’ they see, hear, and read in the media. Achieving gender balance in media is therefore a key step to achieving gender equality overall. The government of Iceland commits to reaching parity across the media industry by 2020: women and men will enter and lead this field in equal numbers. Creating this change is a matter of policy as well as perspective: we have to end the myths around gender, and work closely with newsrooms, advertisement bureaus and film studios to recruit women. To achieve this bold goal, the government will launch two important reports: a transparent analysis on the representation of women in these sectors today, and a comprehensive action plan highlighting specific solutions to empower women within the media sector. Each year, the government will report on progress towards parity.


Engage men across Iceland in gender equality


By June 2016, one in five men in Iceland will be a HeForShe. To achieve this, the government of Iceland will launch two programs. First, the government will work with UN Women and the UN Women National committee in Iceland to campaign for men and boys to sign up as HeForShe. Second, building on the successful ‘Barbershop Conference’ in January 2015 at the United Nations, which created a space for men and boys to engage in gender equality discussions, the government of Iceland will develop a Barbershop toolkit with UN Women. The toolkit will enable supporters around the world to replicate the discussion in their community, workplace or school.

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