Iceland: The Best Place for Women?

When Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was asked by a reporter why 50% of his government ministers in his Cabinet were women, he said, without missing  a beat, “Because it’s 2015.”  At the time it may have seemed like a trite response from a Prime Minister, but it signaled a remarkable change in the narrative about change and diversity — particularly for women.

Canada's Parliament

In an opEd piece in the Globe and Mail Mr. Trudeau said: “Every day, I meet incredible women who inspire me to be a better feminist and a better person. Women can do (and be) anything they want. But powerful cultural change cannot happen when only half of the population works toward that change. Men need to act, set examples and be role models.”

But as progressive as Canada’s new government – and its Prime Minister – may appear to be, today many women are looking to Iceland and other countries for the strides they have made in increasing the participation and wages of women in the workplace and in leadership roles.

The World Economic Forum says Iceland is the best place to be a woman. And according to the World Bank, Iceland is also the safest country to have a baby and where more women are serving on boards.

And although many Canadians may take price in gender parity in its federal government, Rwanda and Finland are well ahead: In Rwanda 64% of its politicians in parliament are women and 63% of Finland’s government ministers are women.

China has the highest number of self-made female billionaires. South Korean has the most female millennials with a university education. In tiny Estonia, 67% of doctoral level mathematics are women. (So much for the stereotype that girls can’t do math.)

Today is International Women’s Day and we should celebrate the outstanding women — living and long dead — whom have done incredible things to make this a better world.

Perhaps we should not be saying Happy International Women’s Day but “Hey! It’s International Women’s Day and its 2016!”




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