As we welcome this (hopefully) last bit of winter before spring comes along, we also ponder what has been on Icelanders’ minds of late besides updated fines for drivers and more circumcision debates. Here’s a round-up of fresh debates, hot topics and crazy madness from these past few days.
It’s been a tough month for Icelandic midwives, but it’s luckily come to an end. After having worked without contract for two months, the entire body of independent midwives quit their job on the same day, demanding that more serious efforts be taken to find an agreement. What caused an uproar, however, was the the Minister for Health’s unwillingness to solve the situation without implementing emergency measures as a long term solution. In addition, although the Minister herself assured she had never heard anything from the midwives, their contract had apparently been lying on the Minister’s desk for months. The midwives were shown support by other workers such as the Police force, as well as countless women and men who posted on social media pictures of their bellies bearing the hashtag “I support midwives.”
It seems that transparency in government is highly overrated this days, and Minister of Social Affairs and Equality Ásmundur Einar Daðason proves just that. MP Halldóra Mogensen supspects that Ásmundur has been lying all along about his knowledge of the situation surrounding former Child Protection Agency’s director Bragi Guðbrandsson. Although Bragi had been at the centre of accusations of poor work practices and mismanagement issued by former social workers, he was also nominated as Iceland’s representative for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Although Ásmundur has denied lying, he did answer the MP’s inquiry by saying that “neither the Child Protection Agency nor its CEO have broken any laws,” which has caused uproar on social media especially in connection with Bragi’s nomination for the Committee.
On a happier note, Parliament recently passed new laws to protect the rights of disabled people, specifically guaranteeing User-Led Personal Assistance schemes (ULPA) as a main service for those in need, Vísir explains. After the government had been slammed by The Organisation of Disabled People in Iceland because of unfair cuts to various services, this is a personal victory for all disabled people in the country. ULPA, in fact, allows individuals to choose where and with whom they want to live, what kind of services they need or want to enjoy and how it is organised. “It’s like being free versus being in prison,” Chairman of the ULPA centre Rúnar Björn Herrera Þorkelsson explains. “The kind of services we had in place before were limited to my house. But now it follows my decisions personally.”
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