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Sexual equality in Iceland

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Regardless of the tongue-twisting name, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir put Iceland on the map when she became the world’s first female president in 1980, high-profile proof of Iceland’s approach to sexual equality. However, treating women as equals was nothing new in Iceland. Ever since Viking times, when every pair of working hands was required to farm, fish and simply exist in such a harsh climate, the nation’s small population base has catapulted women into positions that for centuries were seen solely as a man’s preserve in many other countries. Today, things are no different: both women and men often work long hours, fulfilling several roles, to keep the Icelandic economy ticking over. Generous childcare facilities provided by the Icelandic welfare state have also enabled women to re-enter the labour market shortly after having children, and work their way up the career ladder, often to the very top. Even the Icelandic language reflects the equal nature of society; there’s often no specifically male or female word for a profession – just one term applied to both men and women.

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