Iceland truly is an island, and a nation touched by fire. This small, volcanic Eden, resting in the northern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, boasts a broad state-run healthcare system supporting one of the highest life expectancies in the world, free education for all, and a domestic power grid given life in large part from geothermal sources. These ancient Vikings, living among the volcanoes and hot springs, can also claim to reside — according to the World Economic Forum — in one of the best places for women on the planet.
Women rule Iceland. After a relatively small number of men trashed the economy before and during the last global recession, Iceland’s women took to the streets, and more importantly, to the offices of power and wrested back governmental control of the country from the short-sighted, profit driven male bankers and financiers who deregulated the banks and financial institutions, and left Icelanders with a staggering debt — close to 10 times the size of this tiny country’s gross domestic product.
First step to solving the problem? Elect a female prime minister in 2009. This wasn’t such a big deal for a country where almost half the members of Parliament are women, and where the planet’s first democratically elected female head of state, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (yes, Icelandic names are really hard to pronounce) became president in 1980.
Not only did the people of Iceland elect a female prime minister to clean up the mess left behind by the men (the financial sector used to be dominated by the boys), the country chose Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the first openly gay world leader in modern history, to lead them out of the darkness.
While men still have a say in the way the country is run, women just seem to do it better. After the follies and deep pain of the recession, which the gentlemen brought down upon their nation, women did the hard job of setting this island nation back on course. It was, and continues to be, an arduous journey, but considering the stakes, it’s well worth the effort. Women took over the banks, dealt with the country’s monstrous debt, became entrepreneurs in large numbers — and to oversimplify a bit here, took all of those failed bankers and sent them back to fishing, which was something they still seemed to be good at.
Smart, no-nonsense, and forward thinking women put Iceland on a better track. These modern day economic warriors are still doing their good work, keeping the county alive and helping it thrive once again. If you’d like to see how they run their little dot in the ocean, all you have to do is head north and visit this land of fire and snow, which is governed by women who would have made the Amazons proud.