a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Iceland is being interesting again

Posted on the March 26th, 2010

When it comes to issues near and dear to feminists (and non-feminists), Iceland is the country to watch these days. Last year, Icelanders elected the first lesbian head of state, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Now, the country’s elected representatives have passed a law to close down all Iceland’s strip clubs (“Iceland: the world’s most feminist country” by Julie Bindel, Guardian, Mar 25, 2010).


Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.”

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Iceland is being interesting again

In case you’re wondering about Iceland

Posted on the January 15th, 2010

Iceland’s new prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, has a fascinating Q&A with the New Statesman today (“Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir interview: extended version” Alyssa McDonald, Jan 15, 2010). Sigurðardóttir is the world’s first openly gay, head of government.

Top of the list in the discussion, of course, is the critical financial crisis Iceland is now facing.

Interesting excerpt:

There is still a lot of anger in Iceland about the country’s financial collapse. What are the next steps?

Feelings are mixed. Icelanders are both angry and full of sorrow and anxiety.

They feel betrayed in many ways by the state, by the banks and by our allies. But the anger is also directed inwards – at ourselves as individuals and as a nation. Why did Icelanders let this happen? Sorting out those feelings will be a long and difficult process.

Icelanders aren’t the only ones feeling this way, certainly.

Favorite part of the interview, this:

Your government is 50 per cent female. Is equality important to your vision for Iceland?

Definitely! My long experience in politics tells me that egalitarian policies are the best way to unite and empower people, and are also a necessary counterweight to the sometimes dividing and detrimental influence of market forces. A society that does not use the intellectual power of its female population fully is not a wise society. Women are now the majority of students in the Icelandic universities, and 43 per cent of our MPs.

We have to use all our resources to bounce back from the recession and we expect women to take their full part in the new era. Most women are not as tainted by mistakes in the conduct of the economy as the male population, and now they deserve an opportunity. We are determined to achieve gender equality in the political sphere but, unfortunately, the corporate side is still lacking. This is odd, because international research shows that companies with a sound gender policy are better run and more profitable than male-dominated companies. We are prepared to introduce legislation that would actively encourage the private sector to adopt a wiser and more effective gender policy.

By the way, it’s not a coincidence that the World Economic Forum recently ranked Iceland first in its annual, 134-country survey of gender equality, followed closely by Norway, Finland and Sweden. We would like to keep that position!

May she and Iceland live long and prosper!

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on In case you’re wondering about Iceland