Letter: Follow Iceland’s lead

Thursday, January 11, 2018
Follow Iceland’s lead

On Jan. 1, Iceland became the first country on the planet to mandate that women be paid the same wage as a man for doing the same work. For the past nine years, Iceland already had been ranked by the World Economic Forum as the world’s most gender-equal country from the 144 countries analyzed.

In contrast, the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report stated that the United States fell to 49th on this list, down from 45th last year and 23rd just 11 years ago. Our country is only 77 percent of the way to gender parity in economic opportunity, a gap that’s been narrowing, but not as quickly as in other countries.

The “why” is obvious. The WEF states in the report that “gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive. Ensuring the full development and appropriate deployment of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.”

While we celebrate that physical and sexual assault of women is finally being revealed as the evil that it is, let us not forget that women also continue to be discriminated against and abused economically. The report by Lean In and McKinsey & Company, “Women in the Workplace 2015,” looked at the economic value of gender parity. That report concluded that “if the (slow) rate of progress over the last three years continues, it will take 25 years to reach ‘gender parity’ at the senior VP level and more than 100 years to reach parity in the corner suite.” Isn’t it time for the U.S. Congress to step up and match the courage and commitment of the Icelandic Parliament – where, not surprisingly, half the members are women – and bring economic equality, stability and security to 100 percent of our population?