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We Can Do It: Iceland Empowers Women Leaders

Last month, over 400 female heads of state and government, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and mayors met in Reyjkavík, Iceland to promote gender equality. The Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL) and other organizations partnered with Women Political Leaders (WPL) and held the summit at the Harpa Concert and Conference Center. Although the event primarily focused on politicians, other experts from business, academia, and civil society participated as well. Iceland champions women’s rights and this summit provided a space where leaders could exchange ideas that will impact future legislation and political agenda-setting.

The WPL Global Forum is a global network of female politicians that seeks to increase the number and influence of women in political leadership positions. According to the 2017 programme, the 2017 WPL summit, “We Can Do It,” approves of Iceland’s political action.

“In this spirit, the WPL Annual Global Summit provides the forum for exchange on best practices around the globe: of leadership, legislation and political agenda-setting that creates results,” the programme reads.

According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland ranks first in gender equality because its women defend human rights, create alternatives to male-dominated truths, and men and women share power as decision makers. Icelandic women accounted for 48 percent of elected representatives in parliament in 2016, which demonstrates their near equality with men.

Iceland is the global champion of gender equality and home of the first elected woman president. By welcoming female leaders from all parts of the world, it emphasizes the need for more women in political leadership roles, states a WPL press release.

During the summit, several female political leaders signed a pledge against sexual harassment. Former Iceland President Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the world’s first elected woman president, believes the women who recently shared their experiences with sexual assault will help improve work environments for female politicians.

“Women will be more confident discussing with men, and men more careful,” she told the Associated Press.

At the summit, leaders discussed global challenges, exchanged practices, and participated in a political dialogue with other female political leaders. The summit featured traditional, panel, and plenary sessions with female and male speakers, including President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Xavier Prats Monne, who leads the Department of Health and Food Safety for the European Commission, also spoke and considers himself a feminist.

“The opposite of feminism is ignorance,” Prats Monne said.

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania and current chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, believes Finnbogadottir inspires women to pursue leadership positions and achieve their goals, so she is glad to partner with the WPL, a press release states.

“͞We are pleased to partner on the WPL Global Summit in Iceland, a country which is a global leader in advancing women’s rights and gender equality,” Grybauskaie said.

The WPL summit realizes the need to equip women leaders in many different workplaces and fight for women’s rights in these fields. Iceland sets a great example of gender equality for the rest of the world to follow, and they encourage others to do so with a simple “We Can Do It.”

Featured Image by Robert Montgomery on Flickr 

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