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Icelandic Women Outraged over Lack of Parliamentary Representation

Recently, Iceland has experienced a drop in the number of women who are members of Parliament. According to the Iceland Monitor, “the last government had 47.6 percent women and they will now be 38.1 percent of the 63 elected members… The rate is very different depending on the parties and the voting districts. The percentage of women is highest within the Progressive Party with 62.5 percent and the Center Party with 14 percent.” This is the lowest this number has been since 2007.

In order to address the dropping number of women in Parliament, members of a Facebook group called Kvennaframbod (Women’s Candidacy) are launching a campaign to ensure that Parliament does not ignore important women’s issues.

Members of the Center Party, like Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, have admitted that there really should be a better balance of women and men in each party; however, he also made sure to say that it has been a lot harder to get women to come forward to become members of Parliament, stating,  “We are more than willing to try everything to improve this.”

Soley Tomasdottir, from the Left-Green Movement, explained to Icelandic TV that Kvennaframbod began because many women were frustrated with “male-centric” campaigns. Tomasdottir also added that “despite the feminist waves of recent years and decades, and despite the government disbanding over sexual violence and secrecy, we still got an election campaign based entirely on traditional male-centric terms.”

According to the BBC, the group posted a resolution to Facebook demanding the government to make women’s rights a priority. They added that they are ready “to take action, armed with radical emotion and emotional radicalism. Down with the patriarchy!”

The resolution also addresses the fact that the women see the drop in Parliament representation as a major step backward for their progress. They hope that issues like sexual violence and harassment will not continue to be swept under the rug and ignored. They also add that they hope women continue to band together and dare to run for government positions to help make these changes a reality.

Iceland tops the list of countries closing the Global Gender Gap Index, having closed the gender gap in the country by almost 87.4 percent. While Iceland has come a long way when it comes to equality, they are by no means perfect.

The drop in the number of women who did not get reelected seems to be frustrating many different members of the Icelandic Parliament. Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, the former speaker of Parliament from the Independence Party, said, “It’s simply that women are not placed high enough on the election tickets.” So far only 25 percent of the Independence Party’s elected candidates are women. Konráðsdóttir herself is one of the many women who did not get reelected.

While members of Parliament like Konráðsdóttir are dismayed by the outcome of the last election, Tomasdottir is enthused by the resolution posted to Facebook, agreeing that women should be holding the government accountable. She said, “The current situation is unacceptable. Politics needs to get better for women and feminism in Iceland.” She also told Visir that, “this is the beginning of something wonderful.”

Hopefully, the Kvennaframbod Facebook group will continue to make waves in Icelandic government, and the ratio of women to men in Parliament will become more equal in the coming years. The lack of women in Parliament has caused outrage around the world, and it is time for women to stand up for government equality.

Featured Image by Jennifer Boyer on Flickr

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