99 Years Since Icelandic Women Gained Vote

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99 Years Since Icelandic Women Gained Vote

By Alëx Elliott
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Iceland elected Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in 1980, the world's first democratically elected head of state. Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, head of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, says that gender equality has still not been reached, despite the fact that the sexes are now almost completely equal in the eyes of the law.

This week marked 99 years since Icelandic women over the age of 40 were granted the right to vote and stand in Alþingi parliamentary elections.

Steinunn says that while it is easy to write, read and interpret laws, it is more difficult to bring about a change in the way people think – the sort of change that is needed to stop people being pigeon holed and discriminated against on grounds of gender or other differences.

Steinunn was talking on RÚV radio in celebration of the 99th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Iceland. Steinunn said she believes the biggest threats to equality in Iceland are uneven opportunities in the workplace, domestic violence, and hate speech, especially online.

Women over 40 were granted the right to vote and stand for Alþingi elections on June 19, 1915, and the age was scheduled to lower by one per year for 15 years, until it equalized with the legal age of male voters, which was then 25. However, the law was changed again in 1920 and the voting ages of the sexes were equalized ten years ahead of schedule.

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