The World Economic Forum yesterday ranked Iceland as the best-performing country in the world regarding gender equality.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 is the fifteenth annual publication of on ongoing study which reflects economic participation, educational opportunities, political empowerment and health for women.
Iceland is ranked just above Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden, with Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan comprising the bottom five nations of the 156 studied.
This is the twelfth year in a row that Iceland has come top of the table, according to Fréttablaðið, and this year Iceland’s score in the points-based assessment system was slightly higher than last year.
Still work to be done
“Of course, it’s good news that we are at the top again, but it does not mean that gender equality has been achieved,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told Fréttablaðið. “It imposes a responsibility on us as a leading state to do even better, and set a good example.”
This is the first set of measurements taken since the arrival of coronavirus, and shows that the pandemic has negatively impacted the gender gap globally. This is partly due to widespread traditions of women taking the greater load of domestic work and childcare in the home, and of women being more likely to work in jobs outside the home which are most affected by the pandemic.
Although the report doesn’t address domestic violence, Katrín Jakobsdóttir took the opportunity to include the topic as another which has a direct bearing on the status of women in society—and which has also been affected by the pandemic.
“Epidemic measures have actually increased the unpaid work that women are doing in the care of the home and children, and we are seeing an increase in domestic violence around the world,” Katrín told Fréttablaðið.
The way ahead
Although the World Economic Forum estimates that closing the gender gap globally will take 135 years at current rates of change, Katrín Jakobsdóttir is aiming for Iceland to achieve the United Nations’ goal of full equality between men and women by 2030.
“There is a huge amount of unfinished business,” Katrín said. “It is our role to create a butterfly effect, encouraging the nations of the world to speed up their plans to achieve full equality.”
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