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Viewing cable 10REYKJAVIK6, ICELAND: EUR ENGAGEMENT ON WOMEN'S ISSUES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10REYKJAVIK6 2010-01-08 15:03 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO3728
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHRK #0006 0081557
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081557Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4256
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000006 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/PGI JIM KUYKENDALL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KWMN XG KTIP IC
SUBJECT:  ICELAND: EUR ENGAGEMENT ON WOMEN'S ISSUES 
 
REF: 09 State 124579 
 
1.  (U) Gender equality and women's issues are top priorities in 
Iceland and the country has achieved strong results in these 
spheres.  Iceland ranked third in the United Nations' Human 
Development Index in 2009, and placed first in the 2009 Global 
Gender Gap Index, published by the World Economic Forum. 
 
2.  (U) The Global Gender Gap Index measures how well countries 
divide their resources and opportunities between women and men, 
looking at economic participation and opportunity, educational 
attainment, political empowerment as well as health and survival. 
According to the 2009 Index, Icelandic women are surpassing 
Icelandic men in college enrollment and in attaining professional 
and technical jobs, and have achieved near equal labor force 
participation.  The country also ranked first in political 
empowerment. 
 
3. (U) The financial and economic crisis that shocked Iceland in 
October 2008 led to the downfall of the government and the elevation 
of veteran politician Johanna Sigurdardottir to the post of prime 
minister in early 2009, becoming the first Icelandic woman to hold 
that position.  Women make up 43 percent of the seats in parliament 
following the most recent parliamentary election held in April 2009. 
 Half of the twelve government ministers are women.  The Speaker of 
Parliament and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are also both 
women. 
 
4.  (U) The combination of powerful female role models and 
progressive government policies, like three to six months of paid 
maternity leave, are working to close the gender gap even further. 
One example of a best practice utilized by the Icelandic Government 
includes a government-funded center for promoting gender equality 
located in the town of Akureyri. The center provides counseling and 
education on gender equality to national and municipal authorities, 
institutions, companies, individuals, and NGOs.  Another example of 
an Icelandic success story is an international conference hosted by 
the Icelandic Foreign Ministry and the University of Iceland in June 
2009 on Women, Peace and Security.  The conference was attended by 
200 participants and focused on conflict prevention, conflict 
resolution, peace processes, and women's empowerment. 
 
5.  (U) Iceland passed the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of 
Women and Men in 1976.  This legislation decreed that all 
individuals shall have equal opportunities to benefit from their own 
enterprise and to develop their skills irrespective of gender. 
Subsequent legislation has included a provision to ensure that there 
are equal numbers of women and men on public committees, councils 
and boards.  Iceland supports gender equality through central, 
regional, and national bureaus that oversee the implementation of 
these laws. 
 
6.  (U) The Icelandic government is also actively working to combat 
trafficking in persons and gender based violence.  Parliament 
approved an action plan against trafficking in persons in March 
2009.  In December, the parliament passed an amendment to the 
General Penal Code with respect to trafficking in persons which 
clears the road for ratification of the Palermo Protocol to the 
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and 
the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in 
Human Beings.  In October 2009 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 
the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights sponsored a well-attended 
symposium on human trafficking.  An action plan against gender-based 
violence was adopted in 2007 and it is currently being implemented. 
 
7.  (U) Post has engaged with and assisted the Icelandic Government 
in its battle against trafficking in persons.  Notably, Post 
sponsored one individual's travel to the United States for a 
two-week IVLP program entitled "Combating Trafficking in Persons." 
It is Post's intention to send another individual on a similar 
program this summer.  In addition Post has worked to increase the 
lines of communication between Washington and Reykjavik on the TIP 
topic.  There is, for example, a Digital Video Conference scheduled 
for January 14 that will allow officials from the Icelandic 
government to discuss the matter with their colleagues in State 
Department's G/TIP office. 
 
 
EAGEN