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Icelandic Women: Feminism in Iceland

Berglind Ros

Last Updated on January 15, 2021 by Berglind Ros

Iceland, the Viking country full of volcanoes, glaciers, black sand beaches, impressive basalt cliffs, dreamy waterfalls, iceberg lakes, and hot springs, is also one of the most vanguardist countries on the planet in terms of equality between women and men. Since 1970, its government has been developing active policies to close gender gaps and making men aware of the importance of their contribution in daily tasks such as taking care of children or cleaning the house, usually considered ‘ Icelandic women’s stuff’ and a pillar of inequality of opportunities.

Icelandic Woman wearing a typical pull

What Are Icelandic Women Like?

Icelandic women are warriors, independent, business people, and fiercely defend their families. The reason goes back centuries when women spent long months alone and had to take care of their children. During the Viking Age, Scandinavian women enjoyed privileges, rights, and power that other women of their time did not have, such as the Christian ones. Icelandic women were part of the Viking colonization and a key element in the settlement of these places. Scandinavia was one of the last bastions of European paganism so the Icelandic women managed to retain this status until converting to Christianity.

Feminism in Iceland

In 1975, more than 25,000 women went on strike through the streets of Reykjavik. It was 10 percent of Iceland’s population. None of them did housework that day, took care of her children nor went to work. Their husbands had to be in charge of the children, house, and all the tasks traditionally assigned to the girls. Also, they had to cover their wives in jobs. As a result of this strike, banks, schools, and companies were closed. The women’s strike had an impressive result: a year later, the parliament announced an Equal Pay Law.

‘What happened that day was the first step towards the emancipation of women in Iceland. It completely paralyzed the country and opened the eyes of the people’ said Vigdis Finnbogadottir. She became the first president of Iceland in 1980. Also, the first woman president of Europe.

viking women riding horses

In 2009, Iceland, once again, marked a milestone by electing Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir as the first Prime Minister. She is also the first lesbian in occupying the political leadership of a country. She took advantage of the equal marriage laws that she promoted in her government (which already had laws in terms of equal civil union) and married her girlfriend, Jónína Leósdóttir.

Iceland is a great place to be a woman. Every year since 2009, it leads the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. On January 2018, Iceland became the first country of the globe to officially implement the Equal Pay for Equal Work type, without gender discrimination. This law requires companies, with at least 25 people on the payroll, to show that they pay men and women equally, otherwise, they expose themselves to get a fine.

I Am a Woman, Is It Safe To Travel Alone in Iceland?

Some travellers, both men and women, may feel unsafe when considering a Solo Travel Trip to Iceland. Our answer is always the same: there is no cause for concern. Iceland is the safest and most peaceful country in the world, so travelling alone or in a group is not a risk at all.

However, we must take into account that many natural places are virgin. For this reason, we should not underestimate the dangers of going into nature without basic equipment or knowledge. Again, we do recommend to take a look at Safe (it also has an application) to keep safe and sound while driving in Iceland.

Two girls taking a thermal bath in Iceland - Icelandic woman: Feminism in Iceland

If you go out in Reykjavík on the weekends, you will see that Icelanders really like to party. It is a very pleasant environment, although it’s possible to meet drunken men that could bother a lot. Fortunately, the youth are very aware of the harassment issue, so in these cases, a ‘No’ should be enough.

Why Is It so Difficult to Have a Partner in Iceland?

The small population of the island and the increasing degree of kinship of its locals make it increasingly difficult to form new families. As consequence, three Icelandic engineers created an application for Android mobile phones, where citizens write their names and their partner’s ones to confirm if they are related or not.

The famous Icelandic app, called Islendingabók, can only be used by Icelandic citizens or residents providing their identification number. This useful application is based on census records, churches, public documents and genealogical information from books.  On this way, Icelanders will know whether to move forward with their relationship or if they end up meeting in a family reunion.

Icelacic couple wearing a read pull in Vík

Is it true that Iceland pays to marry one of its women?

There is a rumour that to increase the youth population, the Icelandic government has allegedly launched an initiative to offer a monthly income of $ 1,800 to any foreigner who legally marries an Icelandic citizen. Surveys indicate that the average age of Icelanders is around 40, so there will be few young people in the future.

The ‘birth project’ reached the eyes and ears of many people around the world, so that within a week of spreading the message, Icelandic women received numerous friend requests on Facebook and messages of harassment to ‘do them a favour’ to get married to them.

However, all this information was false, starting with demographic data, as there are more men than women in Iceland. There are exactly 1,007 men per 1,000 women. Besides, the Icelandic government clarified that, for no reason, they would give money to foreigners, men or women, for such reason.

CrossFit and Icelandic Women

One of the most common New Year resolutions is to do sport to burn some calories after the Christmas holidays. Doing CrossFit is increasingly popular among local gyms around the globe.

Then, what is CrossFit? It is a type of training of functional and diversified exercises, done at high intensity. CrossFit is a total strength and physical conditioning program, based on increasing ten physical capacities most recognized by specialists in sports weight training. During exercise, the aim is to develop the strength and muscle tone and increase the functionality of the muscles to repeat the movements in different real-life situations.

Crossfit in Iceland -Icelandic Women: feminism in Iceland

Frequent vocabulary

Box: Place where CrossFit is practised.

WOD: Training routine which is done every day. It changes daily and is never the same.

RX: It means that the athlete has done the WOD according to the indicated weight and modality.

PR: It is the greatest amount of weight that the athlete can lift in a specific exercise.

Annie Thorisdottir is a very famous Icelandic athlete in this discipline. She was the fittest woman in the world at the CrossFit Games for two years in a row (2011 and 2012). For her, CrossFit is a lifestyle. The key to this discipline is working as a team, support each other and make new friends. Another advantage of CrossFit is its diversity; each workout is different, although there are always some favourites.

Tourist woman doing Yoga in Iceland

Icelandic Women: Feminism in Iceland

Iceland, a remote Viking island of just 364,000 residents, is the first country on the planet to adopt a law that requires men and women to earn the same wages. Also, it leads the ranking of gender equality of the World Economic Forum. Iceland is a leader country for women’s rights and this gives more value to everything it already has to offer, such as its fresh air or its dramatic landscapes.

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