Iceland just made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same work, becoming the first country to do so, HuffPost reports. According to Quartz, the new law was passed following little opposition and went into effect Jan. 1. Now public and private employers with more than 25 employees must get government certification under Iceland's Equal Pay Standard every three years. Failure to do so can be punished by fines or audits. "I think that now people are starting to realize that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods," a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association tells Al Jazeera.
Iceland is aiming to eliminate the gender pay gap by the beginning of the next decade. It had already made great strides prior to the passing of the new law. For the past nine years, Iceland has led the world in gender quality, as per the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index. Even so, women in Iceland earn on average 14% to 18% less than men. “We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace," Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said when the new law was announced in March. "It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that." (Read more gender pay gap stories.)