Gender discrimination in Iceland - CEDAW Shadow Report
The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association and Icelandic Human Rights Office have submitted Notes on the Government of Iceland’s Seventh and Eighth Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2016.
Iceland has gone further than most other countries to achieve gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women, but it has a long way to go to achieve full equality. In preparation for Iceland’s CEDAW review, the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association and Icelandic Human Rights Office wrote a shadow report describing several areas of concern in Icelandic legislation and society and submitted it to the UN CEDAW Committee. The Report lists the concerns of the Icelandic Human Rights Centre (IHECR) and the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association (IWRA) with the Icelandic government’s gender equality legislation, policy and funding, as well as their recommendations.
In recent years, several important steps have been taken by the Icelandic government to address discrimination against women. The most important step was the passing of a new Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men (GenderEquality Act) in 2008, providing a comprehensive update ofl egislation dealing with gender discrimination and increasing the powers of the government monitor of gender issues, the Centre for Gender Equality.
In 2009, amendments to the General Penal Code made the purchase of sexual services punishable byl aw, as well as the advertising of prostitution and the profiting from the prostitution of others. The selling of a person’s own body remains decriminalized in Iceland. In 2010, amendments to the Restaurant, Guest house and Entertainment Act effectively criminalized strip clubs, when it became illegal for employers to profit from the nudity of their employees.
In 2010, amendments to the Public Limited Companies Act and the Private Limited Companies Act mandated a gender quota in the boards of companies with 50 or more employees. In 2011, new gender sensitive National Curricula were written for compulsory and secondary schools. In 2012, the government introduced the Equal Pay Standard, an ISO certification system which can confirm that women and men working for the same company are paid equal wages and enjoy equal terms of employment for the same jobs or jobs of equal value. In 2015, a new State Budget Act was passed mandating that the official government budget must be gender responsive.
ICEHR and IWRA expressed their concerns and recomendations, such as:
- the government is in non-compliance with the Gender Equality Act
- the lack of a current government action plan against domestic violence and sexual violence
- the government needs to adequately fund the action plan to fight human trafficking
- the lack of funding to Parental Leave Fund
- the government should make gender studies a mandatory course at all levels
- the government should review the legislation on abortion
- the government is advised to not legalize surrogacy, whether or not for altruistic or commercial reasons
- the government is to fully commit to the equality of women and men, by adequately funding all equality initiatives and legally mandated projects within government institutions
You can read more on this topics in the Shadow Report by ICEHR and IWRA.