Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or nationality, the Nordic nation's government said Wednesday—International Women's Day. The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament this month requiring all employers with more than 25 staff members to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and the US state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms, the AP reports. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.
Social Affairs and Equality Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said "the time is right to do something radical about this issue." "Equal rights are human rights," he said. "We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that." Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, but Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14% to 18% less than men. The new legislation is expected to be approved by Iceland's parliament because it has support from both the center-right government and opposition lawmakers. (Read more gender pay gap stories.)