Majority of women in Iceland's new parliament, European first

Of the 63 seats in Althing, 33 were won by women, or 52 per cent, according to projections based on the final results


Reuters September 27, 2021
Iceland's Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir attends a press conference in Oslo, Norway February 3, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

In a first in Europe, women hold more than half of the seats in Iceland's new parliament, final election results showed Sunday.

Of the 63 seats in the Althing, 33 were won by women, or 52 per cent, according to projections based on the final results.

No other European country has had more than 50 per cent women lawmakers, with Sweden coming closest at 47 per cent, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

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Five other countries in the world currently have parliaments where women hold at least half the seats, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union: Rwanda (61 per cent), Cuba (53 per cent), Nicaragua (51 per cent) and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (50 per cent).

Unlike some other countries, Iceland does not have legal quotas on female representation in parliament, though some parties do require a minimum number of candidates be women.

Iceland has long been a pioneer in gender equality and women's rights, and has topped the World Economic Forum's ranking of most egalitarian countries for the past 12 years.

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It offers the same parental leave to both men and women, and its first law on equal pay for men and women dates back to 1961.

Iceland was the first country to elect a woman as president in 1980, and since 2018 it has had a pioneering gender-equal pay law that puts the onus on employers to prove they are paying the same wages to men and women.

Saturday's election saw the left-right coalition government widen its majority.

However, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir's Left Green Movement emerged weakened while her right-wing partners posted strong scores, casting doubt over her future as prime minister.

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