A recently experience I lived in Iceland is still fresh in my mind and heart. On an Icelandic summer day there was excitement in the air. Global leaders came together in one of the most marvelous places in the Nordic area, the Harpa Music Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland. Change agents and trail-makers from many corners of the world came together to explore and leap into action at the Global Summit to Close the Gender Gap - Inspirally 2015 The summit's spirit called for presence and support of global leaders, thinkers and activists such as Pat Mitchell, Geena Davis, Mrs. C. Lagarde from IMF, Dr. Michal Kimmel, Tiffany Dufu, UN representatives, Johanna Sigurdardottir, and government of Iceland represented by Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, G. Sveinsson Iceland's foreign Affairs Minister plus about 400 participants who came from 15 countries; it was inspiring to be there.
The engine and master mind of this effort is the amazing Halla Tómasdóttir an extraordinary organizational development professional who builds bridges among people and minds to achieve extraordinary results. Halla's also a friend, a TED Speaker, mother, daring entrepreneur - a co-founder of Audur Capital (a financial services and private equity company), key founder of Reykjavik University. She's a smart woman who strikes the balance between likeability and competence like few can. Halla and her incredible team brought us all together; we all came from areas like government, economy, education, media, policy-makers under one roof to trigger change in the world and figure out how we can all help close the global gender gap.
Iceland has set the tone in many ways on global gender equality. It has set the bar at the highest point where we can see equality today in the world, it's nr. 1 in the Gender Gap Index by WEF 2014.
So what is Iceland's doing well today?
• Icelanders work towards equal influence of women and men in decision-making and policy-making in the society
• The strive at gender mainstreaming in all spheres of the society
• They work against pay gap and discrimination and other forms of gender based discrimination
• They put policies and structures in place to enable both women and men to reconcile their work and family life
• They invest in increasing education and awareness-raising on gender equality already from early stages of childhood
• They invest in gender studies and research, and work against gender-based violence and harassment
• They work on changing traditional gender images and working against negative stereotypes regarding the roles of women and men.
• They recognize huge progress and also that there's still work to be done.
Wouldn't it great to import/extract some of these successful best practices from Iceland and adapt accordingly to regions/countries to achieve this purpose? I certainly believe it's worth the try!
Watch out for the next Inspirally Summit on April 2016 (as announced by organizers).
Finally, on the longest day of the year, when the sun literally did not go down, one image stuck to my mind: the picture of men, women and children in the streets of downtown Reykjavik happily celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women's right to vote in their country. Icelanders get that Equality is not only the "right thing" to do, it's the SMART thing for all.