Iceland wins international social security award

Iceland wins international social security award

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) has presented the ISSA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Social Security to Iceland for its remarkable results in gender equality in social security and its society.

Even among Nordic countries that all score highly on gender equality indexes, Iceland has taken a leading position. This is illustrated by the fact that Iceland has led the global statistical rankings on gender equality produced by the World Economic Forum for 12 years.

“Iceland is a global role model when it comes to adopting and implementing policies and programmes that ensure gender equality in social security and in society. It is therefore an honour and a privilege to give this ISSA Award to such a well-deserved winner”, said ISSA President Joachim Breuer in connection with the ceremony.

The ISSA Award offers worldwide recognition of a country’s exceptional commitment and achievements in the field of social security protection in line with the ISSA’s objectives. It is offered once every three years on the occasion of the World Social Security Forum, and this year’s award was handed over to Huld Magnúsdóttir, Director General of the Social Insurance Administration of Iceland.

In a statement, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir pointed out that progress towards gender equality does not happen on its own and highlighted the role of pioneering women. Despite the many milestones achieved, she also emphasised that more needs to be done. “When it comes to social security, which is hugely important to the financial security and therefore the well-being of people in our societies, we must keep a gender perspective to our plans and our programmes”, she said.

Iceland has taken a comprehensive and holistic approach when it comes to gender equality, and among the features that make the Icelandic approach outstanding are:

  • An enabling environment, including gender issues led from the Prime Minister’s Office, a comprehensive equality law and gender-based budgeting.
  • A long-standing parental leave system that now ensures independent individual entitlements for both parents.
  • A minimum pension guarantee and special benefits at working age that contribute specifically to reducing poverty among women.
  • Gender-equality in the labour market, including the requirement for companies to be legally certified for equal pay and promoting access to skills development and training for women.
  • Focus on the specific vulnerabilities of female immigrants, gender gaps in unpaid care and women in domestic work.
  • Gender-awareness in social security COVID-19 responses.

This approach has led to unique results, including the highest share of parental leave taken by fathers among all Nordic countries (31 per cent), the highest labour force participation of women among all OECD countries (75.1 per cent) and the lowest poverty rate among women above 65 in all OECD countries (1.7% of women aged 65 or older have income lower than 50% of median.

Gender equality is an important topic for the ISSA and together with its Technical Commission on Family benefits it has put gender mainstreaming in social security on the agenda. This work will continue in the new 2023-2025 programme period of the Association.