Iceland mandates proof of equal pay
Last week, Iceland became the first country in the world to pass a federal law requiring employers to prove that they are paying male and female equally. Starting in 2018, companies with twenty-five or more employees will be required by the Equal Pay Standard to analyze their salary structure annually and obtain certification from the government every three years. Organizations that fail to do so will face penalties, including fees imposed by the government. Though the World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland as the most gender equal country in the world for nine consecutive years, and Icelandic law has mandated equal pay for equal work since the 1960s, the country had a 16 percent pay gap last year due to lack of oversight and the persistence of some discriminatory policies. Experts suggest that the timing of the law is related to Iceland’s election of the “most equal Parliament in the world": female candidates won close to 50 percent of parliamentary seats in the 2016 elections, without any quotas in place.
Turkey sanctions child marriage
Turkey’s state religious affairs agency has come under heavy criticism after announcing that girls as young as nine could be permitted to marry under Islamic law. The Diyanet body, which administers religious institutions and education across the country, said on an official website last week that girls could marry as soon as they reach adolescence, sanctioning marriages of girls as young as nine years old. Despite the fact that Turkey’s legal age of marriage is eighteen, the practice of underage weddings with the consent of parents or in religious ceremonies is widespread. Following the Diyanet’s announcement, thirty members of parliament called on the government to launch an investigation into child marriage, with lawmaker Murat Bakan writing on Twitter that the practice “violates children’s rights, women’s rights, and human rights.”
Automation may widen the gender pay gap
A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that automation could widen the gender pay gap in the future. Lower-skill jobs, which are disproportionately held by women, are most likely to be replaced by technological advances in automation in coming years; in contrast, many higher-skill jobs—disproportionately held by men—are expected to remain stable. Because automation and new technologies may boost productivity and increase the market value of high-skill work that is not automatable, the analysis predicts that the wages of society’s highest earners will rise while those of the lowest will not. In every country globally, women currently make up a smaller proportion of those in high-skill, high-pay occupations that are resilient to automation.