There are a number of reasons to love Iceland.
Apart from being the third happiest country in the world, there’s Bjork (obviously), the breathtaking scenery and northern lights, the incredibly low crime rates, and it was the first country in the world to elect a female President in the 80’s (Vigdis Finnbogadottir).
And now they’ve gone and mastered how to successfully keep Icelandic youths from alcohol, substance abuse, and antisocial behaviour using a wonderfully simple antidote.
Not too long ago, Iceland had the highest drinking youths in Europe, but a radical turn-around – and a dash of common sense – has transformed the landscape so much that Icelandic teens now top the table for being the cleanest-living.
The magic formula? Creating a social movement through activity and participation, and Iceland has a plentiful supply of purpose-built facilities for arts, theatre, dance, music, and sport.
Their progressive ways and devotion to young people are inspiring, and in the last 20 years, the percentage of young people who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. And those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.
But this isn’t the first time that the people of Iceland have proved themselves as a nation of revolutionaries. Did we mention that it’s one of the best countries in the world for women?
In October 2016, thousands of women walked out of their jobs at 14:38 in protest against the gender pay gap. Women earn 14% percent less, so the women of Iceland decided to leave work 14% early.
On the same date, October 24th, 1975, 90% of their female population stopped working for the day and effectively shut down all businesses. They were not just protesting the unequal pay, they were fed up with having no political representation – only nine women had ever won seats in parliament. The following year, Parliament passed a law that would guarantee equal pay and five years later, Iceland appointed the world’s first democratically elected female president. The Women’s Alliance, an all-female political party was established and more than a third of MPs were women by 1999.
When compared to our disheartening gender gap (which is currently at 14.4% and not going down anytime soon), issues with antisocial behaviour, crime, and substance abuse, and the lack of gender diversity among our government, you think we could learn a thing or two.
And it’s surprising to know that no other country has yet adopted the ‘Icelandic’ way of life. It’s food for thought, isn’t it?
Iceland, we applaud you.