For the 9th consecutive year, Iceland is honoured to be the world’s best country to follow the lowest gender-biased policy. What are the lessons can be learned, from Iceland, for a country that bragged about the 25% of the female quota on the Local Government Election?
Iceland is the land of ‘Ice and Fire’. It is engraved with that title, for the country is abundant with a much alike stance of its layer of ice and the mass of volcanoes. Its size is equal to the Ohio state of America. There is no forest in Iceland; neither mosquitoes, nor an army force for the country. It shares no colonial history, as it had never been conquered by any domain; owns a lower population of Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand (350,000). Its murder records are only a mere 18 per year, so that sometimes it is called a country without murder. It is a country that sees no sunlight most throughout the year, and in times rays hit the surface, they will be limited into no more than five hours per day.
Life at Iceland, there are many other factors that solidify features of higher human indices. The maternity leave of this country is a period of 9 months. It is a leave available for both men and women. The contrast of payment scales, according to male-and-female difference, is very small. Free education is available to the country, and free health services can also be obtained individually. Above all, proving to have Gender Equality 100% for 9 consecutive years, confirmed by the statistics of the World Economic Forum, this country stands at the highest rank of this factor (Global Gender Gap Index). As of today, Iceland is considered to be the world’s leader of Gender Equality.
For that matter, the World Economic Forum underlines that Iceland is also ‘the best country for the birth of a woman’. We above denoted that the contrast of pay scales according to Gender difference is very small in Iceland. Iceland determines to steer this difference, within the succeeding 5 years, into a rate of 0, regardless of the field, by upbringing the payment scales of men and women into an identical value.
No right is found in trays so easily in this world. Iceland stands today in this position, back-chaptering a time they had been in the midst of a series of struggles.
Icelandic Parliament is considered to be the world’s oldest parliament, which was established in 930 A.C. But instead of having one monolithic god, apparently the religious culture of Iceland was veiled by gods and goddesses around the time of 1000 A.C. Parallely, the theory of having women as representatives of god, for the wellbeing of people, shall be no longer acceptable was conceived. In the years 1914 and 1915, women of Iceland were given the opportunity to become Protestant Priests; similarly, were allowed have the voting power and to represent the Iceland Parliament. Accordingly, in the country where the world’s oldest parliament was established, no women were allowed to enter the Parliament for 1000 years. The first female Bishop of Iceland was appointed in 2012.
Meanwhile, in 1975 the salaries of employed women in Iceland were less than 60% less than the proportion of men in paid employment. Only 3 female representatives were present at the Icelandic Parliament at the time. In the end, 90% of employed women protested against Gender Inequality. Establishment of the movement known as ‘Women’s Alliance’ was the result of this protest. They established a political party under that title to easily stress the present political body at the time. Within their first round of polls at the General Election, the female representation at the Icelandic Parliament rose from 5% to 15%. As of 2016, the female representation of the Icelandic Parliament was 48%.
According to the researchers, from 1915 to 1983, the female representation of Icelandic Parliament was only between 2% - 5%.
Up until 1999, the Women’s Alliance mentioned above made a massive contribution for the female representation at Iceland. This female movement was able to deliver a great deal of problems into debate at the Icelandic Parliament, of which the society visualized as “Women’s Issues”. An era of incorporating these ‘Women’s Issues’, which of course needed to be included into the political agendas, was established orderly.
Compared to this, now let us eye into few insights of the female representation in Sri Lanka.
Under the Donoughmore Constitution, after Sri Lanka was permitted to have compulsory voting power, no woman submitted to be present at the first General Election held in Sri Lanka on 13th of June, 1931. The few women who submitted nominations also withdrew their nominations a few days prior to the election. The overall picture of The Sunday Observer editorial regarding the incident, on March 5th, was,
“The women in Sri Lankan Politics it seems have been attempting to consume a lot of food instantly that they can barely bite. Several beauties are completely head over heels, that submitting their nominations but barely walk into the burning grounds of the election battle, maybe the temperature isn’t tolerable enough for them.”
Then, in November 1931, Mrs. Adeline Molamure, the wife of the Speaker at the time Mr. Francis Molamure, was appointed into the Ceylon National Congress, and the story of Sri Lanka continued to be written into having the first female Prime Minister, and a Mrs. World being the Governor of Colombo. Meanwhile, being granted of the Parliament of Westminster Model by Soulbury Constitution in 1947, the period of 70 years then and now only claims to have 2.8% of increase in female representation within the Sri Lankan Parliament. Hence in February 2018, the suggestion to increase female representation up to 25% at the Local Government Election remains dead seeds, while Sri Lanka is being ranked into the collection of world’s countries in which female political representation is very small, and maintaining 52% of females out of the total population. Also, according to the rankings of World Economic Forum mentioned above, Sri Lanka ranks at 109th place from 144 countries at the light of Gender Difference.
So, what is the lesson Iceland teaches to the fellow countries via their story of Gender--that a collective procedure is mandatory for acquiring Gender Equality? Precisely. It is also necessary for human rights activists to have tools such as cohesion, political will and law, quota systems and gender budgeting. A movement at such shall be empowered in terms of the power currents of cultural, political, religious, social, educational and economical aspects. A woman’s life in a social labyrinth of no security and no rights is a Russian Roulette game--an old saying claims. When a woman once in a while foots on the top of the world, or beats a man’s place and names herself to be in limelight, it does not baptise the country eliminating patriarchy. Therefore the lesson Iceland teaches to the entire world is platinum.
- Radika Gunaratne