Overcoming One's Own Prejudices

(Originally published in Markadurinn in Icelandic on November 4th, 2015)

As of November 2nd 2015, women in Europe work without pay until the end of this year, or for the next 59 days if the 16.3% pay gap in Europe is taken into account. Women in Spain started working for free twelve days ago and women in Iceland will begin on November 20th (the dates vary depending on which part of a report on the gender pay gap we look). The European Commission drew attention to this issue on the European Equal Pay Day 2015 on November 2nd.

It's been 100 years since women in Iceland received the right to vote. It is simply incomprehensible that we're still battling a systematic gap in pay based on gender, no matter which number we look at. Every number above zero is too high. UN Women and others have pointed out that if we continue at our present speed it will take another 70 years to close the gender gap. This has been cited on numerous conferences on gender equality, both in Iceland and abroad.

I think it's great to organise conferences and other events to raise awareness of systematic inequality. But I must admit that I'm getting very tired of this all talk and no action. It's not enough to meet up and talk about the latest statistics and wait for government to take action. What can we as individuals do?

Equality is a human right, and a social and economic issue. Gender inequality is in violation of democracy and morality. It's clearly stated in the 65th article of the Constitution of the Democracy of Iceland. When we discriminate based on gender we are violating the constitutional rights of our fellow citizens.

Facing our own gender biases, no matter what gender you identify with is one of the most important steps towards equality. Judging women based on their appearance first and their accomplishments second is a very common manifestation of gender biases. So is excluding men from gender equality discussions. In order to eliminate systematic biases and discrimination we need to first eliminate our personal biases. We need to start an open and honest conversation about our own biases and enter that discussion without judgement. Even though we may think we are without biases or prejudices, isn't there always room for improvement?