2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development credits Icelandic parental policy with 'hopeful' changes

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Average national scores on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment maths test
Image: StatSilk.

Tuesday, World Bank released the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. In discussing Iceland, it suggests mandatory paid parental leave for mother and father have played an important role in changing norms in the country. Parents have a government mandated nine months leave, three for the mother, three for the father and three to to distribute between the two. Leave is paid at 80% of their wages. The report describes the changes in gender relations in Iceland as "promising" in terms of impact at work and at home.

Iceland's boys and girls mean scores for the Programme for International Student Assessment mathematics test were nearly identical with boys just edging out girls with both scores around 510. Girls outperformed boys on the literacy test with a mean score of approximately 525 to 480. Iceland's girls mathematics performance was similar to that of girls from Estonia, Germany and Belgium. Their performance on literacy was similar to Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, Estonia and Belgium.

Margrét Sverrisdóttir, a female Icelandic politician
Image: Reykjavik city hall.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Mortality rates in Iceland for 1,000 people aged 15–60 sits at 56, significantly better than the United States at 107, China at 113, India at 213, Iraq at 285, Afghanistan at 479, Malawi at 481 and Zimbabwe at 772. One of the reasons the report cites for Iceland's relatively low mortality rate is it not located in a conflict country or in an HIV/AIDS affected country.

Iceland was one of 23 countries that currently have over 30% of its Parliamentarians who are female. Other countries with over 30% representation include Rwanda, Argentina, Cuba, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In the mid-1990s, there were only 5 countries. The report cites the 1983 creation of the Women's Alliance, an all women's political party, as bringing additional attention to women's issues and deliberately attempting to increase the representation of women in Icelandic politics.

Despite some of the good news highlighted in the report about Icelandic women, there exists a systematic gender difference in earning potential. Icelandic women in both the private and public sector earn approximately 22% less than their male counterparts. Icelandic men have slightly more access to the Internet than Icelandic women by about 2%. Despite this slight disadvantage for Icelandic women, it is much better than some countries where the percentage differences are much greater. These countries include Austria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Turkey, and Macedonia.


Sources

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