Recently, the World Economic Forum released the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, far from the continent, with only more than 300,000 people in the Nordic countries - Iceland - topping the list for the 11th consecutive year. Behind the flamboyant rankings, is Iceland a utopia of gender equality? What has Icelanders done to transform gender equality from a slogan into a whole set of social mechanisms and cultural traditions?
Jiaqian set out for a long journey to Iceland. Midnight transfer in Hong Kong, and then to Paris, very light sleep. Travelers from around the world rushed past a 76-year-old grandmother who had just finished her trip to Paris at Paris de Gaulle Airport to the boarding room of Iceland's capital Reykjavik as Iceland's flight was so cheap that she was ready to transfer from there to the United States. The old man's partner is no longer alive, but she still insists on traveling alone. \"I'm only 26 years old, but I feel like I'm old,\" Jia Qian said with tears. \"I dream of becoming a writer, but I don't even have the courage to start. \"Life in China is a mess, the projects I quit and I fell ill and broke up,\" he said.
At home, jiaqian has just divorced her husband of the same age and has given up giving birth to her baby, she told me:\" the ex-husband is very traditional, think the girl husband is good, he also said that I such a girl and he separated is no future.\" Jiaqian then bought the one-way ticket to Iceland and settled in Iceland on a skilled worker's work visa, a planned honeymoon trip.
For Jiaqian, who has just arrived in Iceland, the country is like a \"utopia\" where her frustrated marriage suddenly matters nothing. On the second day in Iceland, Jia Qian saw a pregnant woman holding her son on the main street in Reykjavik, and when she talked, she learned that the pregnant woman was not married, the fetus in her belly was the child of her current boyfriend, and the two were about to break up. \"In Iceland, families and companies will support such single mothers,\" Jiaqian told me. Marriage is outdated in the land, with more than two-thirds (67%) of Iceland's babies born to unmarried parents. \"The word'family breakup' is bad, which means something is going to break up once you get divorced. Asmond dotti, an icelander with three children and two partners, told the media,\" but this is not the case in iceland at all, we can choose the life we want.\"
The Global Gender Gap Report issued by the World Economic Forum provides a measure of this freedom. The report included four major political, economic, educational and health scores. In the latest report for 2020, Iceland's overall indicator of gender equality ranked first in the world for the 11th consecutive year. Among them,\" political rights \"and\" economic participation \"separated the world first and second,\" literacy rate \",\" higher education \",\" gender birth rate\" and other secondary indicators also ranked first in the world.
Icelanders are not complacent, and new difficulties and initiatives abound. even though the “equal pay for men and women ” index has ranked first in the world, today the average income of icelandic women is still about 15% lower than that of men, and they plan to eliminate this gap completely in 2022, and have legislated in 2018 to impose tough fines for violations by all 25 or more companies. On the other hand, political rights were not a godsend, with the most gender-equality parliament in Iceland's history in 2016, where 48% of its members were women, and the balance appeared to have fallen to zero; only a year later, the percentage of women in Iceland's parliament in 2017 fell back to 38%, and in the Global Gender Gap Report published that year, Iceland's "Parliamentary Women' Index" fell from first to 20th, with gender equality not firm.
While striving for equality, icelandic women have also given up some \"preferential treatment\" in their relationship. Jiaqian's second husband, an Icelander, understood on a date that Icelandic girls were \"not easy \". She was volunteering at the Red Cross when she asked a female colleague,\" Shall I ask him out? Will the other side not cherish?' Colleagues are baffled:\" you want him to ask him out, or the boy will disappear.\" At one point, the couple had a minor disagreement over etiquette, telling her husband that opening the door for girls and giving up seats was a common courtesy, but the response was that it was a big bogey in iceland because women would feel looked down upon. Jiaqian found that these changes to traditional habits are the source of solid gender equality compared to political rights and economic status.
Today's life makes Jia Qian feel the ending of Epley, the heroine of American writer Richard Yates's novel The Road to Revolution. In the book April wants to go to Paris to start a new life and career, while her husband wants to stay in the United States for promotion. After the argument failed, April chose to self-harm the abortion, and finally died in the hospital. Jia Qian plans to write a novel in the future, will not give the end of April,\" April should be a great theater actor in Paris, she will live the life she wants.\" But mr jia also understands that the \"path of revolution\" experienced by icelandic women is far more complex and long than she thought \"happy ending \".
In the eyes of Eyolsson, the youngest son of a farmer on the outskirts of Reykjavik, Iceland's female divide began in his father's youth. \"Grandpa also used to say when he was alive that women should stay at home. Mr eyorsson,27, joked:\" it's normal in iceland, when I was a kid with him, my father was bored with me.\"
In the 1970s, when women were in high school, Eyolsson's father was still in high school. On October 24,1975,90 per cent of all-ice island women went on strike, and half of the women in the capital took part in the movement against the arbitrary recall and repatriation of women as auxiliary labour. Strikes have stalled Iceland's economy: schools, nurseries, shops and factories are shutting down. Since the newspaper typists were usually female, they couldn't print. Men either stay at home or take their children to school. At night, women refuse to cook at home, and one feminist, who was in the square at the time, recalls:\" The street is filled with the smell of barbecue and men are trying to cook their own.\"
In eyorsson's memory, the strike did change that generation, including his father. \"His father said he had no opposing emotions and just felt that it was a change that was taking place all over the world. But the change did not happen overnight, and Icelandic women have paved the way for it for nearly a century. In 1869, the first group of Icelandic women's associations was formed in the countryside; in 1894, after the establishment of the Icelandic women's association in the capital, Reykjavik, political appeals were assembled. In the face of accusations in the media that women are \"naive\" and \"uncommitted \",\" vulnerable to closeness to men\" and \"too united \", the association has actively lobbied for congress. On june 15,1915, women were finally able to vote in congressional elections, but the voting age was set at over 40, and the threshold was not lifted until 1920. Two years later, the first Icelandic female MP, Ingibj? rgBjarnason was elected and her dress stood out in a photo of the dressed-up MP.
The seeds planted in the pursuit of political rights a century ago eventually took root in Iceland. Guerun Helga-dottir, one of the leaders of the 1975 movement, argued that the strike had at least an impact on women who had never been involved in politics, and they realised that they could support each other.
Before 1983, Iceland had only 2% of its parliament? Five percent of women, but the effect of the movement has been immediate in a country that prepares for equality in elections. Iceland and Europe's first female president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, struggled to be elected in 1980 and have since easily re-elected for three terms. In 1983, the number of women in Iceland's parliament rose sharply, jumping from five out of 60 MPs to 15, thanks to the creation of the Women's Alliance the previous year, where women were no longer a loner but a member of party politics.
Magnea Marinosdottir, an adviser to Iceland's Ministry of Social Welfare, believes that women's path to political rights, to Congress and to legislation will breed deeper changes in society. The change is finally dominated by women.
Before the country's national bankruptcy crisis in 2008, iceland's banks were borrowing from each other and the state was borrowing from foreign countries, fueling a false economic boom. By 2006, in a country with fewer permanent residents than any other region in Shanghai, three banks were already among the world's top 300. \"After the crisis, the three big banks went bankrupt, and Icelanders were disappointed with the male-controlled financial industry and the government, and they took our money together,\" Mr. Eyorsson told me. The women's union has been a rational voice in the banking privatisation frenzy, arguing for at least one national bank.
When the government collapsed in the spring of 2009, Johanna Siguredottir was elected the country's first female prime minister, with her party the heir to the women's coalition. Icelandic women themselves are victims of false prosperity. The financial-led \"casino economy \"has begun to change the role of women, with a growing number of wives forced to stay at home by their husband's high pay and intensity in banking.
Icelandic women, on the other hand, are \"survivors\" of the economic crisis. Iceland's labour market is highly gender-segregated. Women are more likely to work in the public sector, while men are more likely to choose private companies. The private sector in construction and finance has been hit more by the bursting of the bubble, with male unemployment rising significantly above that of women and the employment gap narrowing from% to% in the four years since the crisis began.
The return of economic status paves the way for deeper equality policies. On the one hand, western el zadotti has toughened sanctions on banks and revived tourism, leading to a steady recovery; on the other hand, the icelandic government has begun to focus on the equality of jobs and pay behind the employment rate. By September 2013, the government had required at least 40% of the boards of state-owned companies and private companies over a certain size to be female (or male). Janet Elise Johnson, a professor of political science at New York City University, argues that in the long run, women may be more successful investors and managers on average, as they take a more rational approach to risk, with Icelanders choosing female leadership in the face of the economic crisis.
The powerful prime minister has also promoted a series of radical gender policies: sex trade in iceland is criminalized and same-sex marriage is legal. Western zaldoti's policy preference for minorities is not a political act because she herself is an openly gay person and mother of two, but the family has never been a drag on her career. The woman who led Iceland out of the mire was not only the mother of a country, but also the \"daughter\" of Icelandic society.
In the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, the five Nordic countries, with the exception of Denmark, are among the top four in gender equality. Finland's young female prime minister, Sana Marin, has also recently taken office. What is the magic of the air in these cold countries? Does the common history of the Nordic countries provide the soil for the success of modern women?
Claire Zilman, senior editor of Fortune magazine, wrote about the success of Icelandic women as a shock to the United States from a \"small country\" after a record 48 percent share of women in Iceland's parliament in 2016. In response, chinese writer jia qian, who lives in iceland, realises:\" in a populous country, opinions are often thrown out of the sea; but in iceland, a small country, I do have the illusion of being able to change society.\" Ms. Ka-chan, who worked at the city hall in Reykjavik, remembers her work as colleagues planning to transform the bathroom at the site into a mix of men and women, leaving only cubicles to solve the problem of women queuing. Jia qian participated in the discussion with her colleagues, and her feeling was:\" the residents of every issue influence you, not the abstract concept, which stimulates men to think in transposition.\" In that \"toilet reform \", most men understood the difficulties of women queuing, and did not object.
However, Jiaqian also believes that the characteristics of \"small country and few people\" cannot directly drive the formation of equality consciousness. Countries such as Germany and Spain, which are also at the forefront of the gender equality list, are made up of tens of millions of people and recognized complex ethnic groups in Europe. \"You can't owe it all to the population,\" Mr. Eyorsson said. \"Men have their own circle, but it's natural to vote for women,\" he told me. Eyolsson is a young member of a hot spring choir in Iceland, and most of the other members are men of his father's age, often naked when soaking up the hot springs, singing low, powerful Viking war songs. But mr eyorsson doesn't think it's calling for a male society in iceland's viking era. It's more of a northern european heritage. He sees the legacy of history as an important backing for iceland's status as a woman,\" we have strong women \".
In iceland's more distant history, women are known for being strong and independent. \"The concept of'strong women' has existed in Iceland since ancient times,\" Marnosdotti said. For all its mythological color, it is rooted in reality. Before the Christian era, Icelandic women were priests, poets, doctors and teachers in religious societies,\" women enjoyed certain freedoms and had cultural and religious authority \". In Icelandic mythology, there are also female leaders who have led ships from continental Europe to settle. If you go back to iceland's history as a seafaring nation, once these viking men go out to sea, wives will have to take on hunting and building duties at home, and even inherit the property of their dead husband and become the head of the family.
The vague gender division of labor inherited from the Middle Ages. Jiaqian felt that \"education is the primary source of gender equality awareness in Iceland \". There are no schools for boys and girls in Iceland, and teachers in schools encourage boys and girls to join the same community. Both boys and girls, to learn knitting, cooking and other domestic skills, Jiaqian husband and colleagues around the cooking are derived from this.
And for men and women entering society, the system of equal leave also makes the social roles of both sexes less rigid, and fathers share more responsibility for family education. 88% of icelandic women are employed, and \"part-time parents\" take turns at home looking after their children. Since the \"parental leave\" reform in 2000, both parents have been given a three-month vacation each year, and three months have been allocated flexibly by both sides. The law was successful. In 2007, icelandic fathers took an average of 101 days of parental leave, and the gender pay gap across society was 8% lower than at its peak. Bj? rn Thor Arnarson) believes that because men also have parental leave, employers have reduced the discrimination that women need long vacations to care for their families, and Iceland's job market has provided them with more long-term, high-paying jobs.
Men are also beneficiaries. Icelandic men bid farewell to the viking-era battle and premature death, enjoying the longest life expectancy in europe. Research by Norwegian sociologist and male researcher Oystein Gullvag Holter suggests a direct correlation between a country's gender equality status and its male well-being. Because women's participation in work protects men from economic shocks, a culture of equality reduces anxiety during holidays and helps them avoid the dangers of alcohol and tobacco. Icelandic men can enjoy the same length of parental leave as their wives.
But the moral pressure on men is also obvious. Surprisingly, iceland is one of the highest reported cases of sexual harassment among europeans, and the pervasive feminism of women's rights has left nowhere to hide, even in the vibrant night market in Reykjavik. The definition of sexual harassment in Icelandic law is very broad and essentially includes any behaviour deemed to be disrespectful. A 2010 study by the University of Iceland found that 30 per cent of Icelandic women between the ages of 18 and 80 were physically assaulted at least once by men, with 13 per cent claiming to have suffered rape or attempted rape.
Early iceland's gender education was further innovated: after entering kindergarten, boys were encouraged to be more sensitive and girls were taught to be stronger and more lively. Margaret Palaolafsdottir, a prominent Icelandic educator, is an advocate of the idea, arguing:\" When it's always together, girls look at boys and they think'I'm going to be girls so I'm not going to act like boys'. Olafsdotti thinks it's a \"pink haze \"(Pink Haze) that girls have to be\" cymbidium-minded \"ladies and sometimes even appear vulnerable; whereas boys in the\" Blue Haze \"are taught to be more independent and masculine, which can lead to male apathy and violence.
In order to break the \"gender fog \", in olafsdotti's school, male and female students are completely separated for half a day, each carrying out gender-common activities: girls playing mud outdoors, carpentry, boys doing quiet little games indoors. Girls are encouraged to get dirty in their games,\" otherwise they'll stay in the comfort zone until they enter society at the age of 20. For another half-day, boys and girls get together, and the school encourages their contact in order to learn to perceive each other's emotions. Brian, an american who works in iceland, is taking parental leave and doesn't worry about the \"femininity\" that his son is taught at school:\" I can teach him all the'traditional masculinity' during the holidays, but I can't teach him at home. The future of his generation is something I'm looking forward to when the two traits are combined.
Back in the moment, Katrin Jakobsdottir, Iceland's current female prime minister, believes more in the short-term power of policy. She wrote:\" cultural change can move families away from traditional male breadwinners, but the gender pay gap will continue to force men to work while leaving women at home.\" Rather than treating the wage gap as a result of gender inequality, jacobs dotti sees it as a source of inequality, and a bill to enforce pay equality has been introduced, the most sensational reform in iceland in recent years. But by 2022, even if the gender pay gap is completely erased as planned, utopia still faces a deep gender divide.
Professor Jill Ruby of Manchester Business School believes that focusing on \"equal pay for equal work \"does not address the gender pay gap across companies, as \"equal pay for equal work \"is only for equal pay in the same position, whereas Icelandic men are often concentrated in high-paying or senior management positions. According to the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report,58 per cent of Iceland's management positions are in men's hands, while women only have an advantage in technical and professional jobs. In 2018, only 11 percent of Iceland's largest 100 companies had a female CEO. The gender gap in the workplace since the 2008 economic crisis has not been reversed, which is why the average income gap between men and women remains at least 15% when iceland is doing its best for equal pay.
On the other hand, there are experts who fear that iceland has gone too far on affirmative action to ignore \"nature \". Romina Boccia, chief financial and economic expert at the American Heritage Foundation, a conservative research firm, argues that in Iceland, roughly% of the income gap is not created by sex discrimination but cannot be quantified to regulators. In addition to the cash salary, for example, she concluded from the poll, women want more flexibility and longer vacation time. Portia predicted that Iceland's rigid pay structure would lead to more temporary and dispatch-style arrangements.
For this% of the \"unexplained\" income gap, Jia Qian is not aware. She quit her nine-to-five job as a dream ice writer, earning more than her husband, buying a house in the familiar city and starting a lodging business in Iceland. The husband has no objection to this, he has been living in the suburbs. As a chinese, jiaqian is more conservative than most icelanders, and her marriage still gives her a sense of security. Despite the long road ahead, there is perhaps enough to be the cornerstone of katharum's new family and iceland's \"utopia \", as she told me about her husband, a native icelandic man:\" he supports my career and sees me as an independent man.\"
（ This article appears in the first issue of Triple Living Week in 2020. Thank you for your help and your contribution to this article.)