Meeting the Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir (centre).

This October, Niamh and Emma were the lucky ones at Alice, as they got to travel to Reykjavik in Iceland, on a study tour with our client WorkEqual – an organisation that works to promote the economic independence of women and build an Ireland that champions workplace equality.

The trip was coordinated by Alice, in collaboration with the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association. As well as WorkEqual founder Sonya Lennon, and CEO Angela Smith, the delegation travelling to Iceland also included members of the All-Party Oireachtas Group on Workplace Equality: Co-Chairs Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee, Senator Emer Currie, and Senator Annie Hoey.

The delegation pictured at Reykjavik City Hall with Þórdís Lóa, President of the City Council of Reykjavík and members of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.

Why Iceland?

The purpose of the study tour was to explore how Iceland has become a world-leader in gender equality, and what Ireland can learn from them at both a Parliamentary and Municipal level. The tour had a specific focus on childcare – as it is one of the main obstacles to gender equality in the workplace. Who better to learn from that in the world’s most equal country?

Some of the many interesting people the group met while in Iceland, included:

  • Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
  • Members of Parliament Andrés Ingi Jónsson, Pirate Party and Jón Steindór Valdimarsson, Reform Party.
  • Þórdís Lóa, President of the City Council of Reykjavík.
  • Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir, former Secretary General of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association and current President of Fræðagarður (the Union of University Graduates in Iceland).
  • Rut Einarsdóttir, Tatjana Latinovic and board members of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.
  • Representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister working on gender equality policies and legislation.

Over the course of the two days, the group heard from many different perspectives – but all were in agreement on what the main leavers for change in achieving gender equality are: accessible, affordable childcare and shared parental leave. Supported by legislation, these policies in Iceland have had a profound effect on the participation of women in the workforce, and creating a more equal country.

The tour provided much food for thought for the group, and since arriving back on Irish soil, the team is busy digesting the learnings and working on plans to continue to make Ireland a more equal country.

The group pictured outside Reykjavik’s parliament buildings – Alþingi.

 

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