Empowering women, empowering Iceland, empowering the world

Jenna Wilson ('15)/ Eastside News/Features Editor

Iceland has the first female president in the world, has one of the smallest gender gaps, the least amount of gender discrimination and is generally the place to be for females. This attitude of equality is blending with Iceland’s fashion industry, as many Icelandic brands are choosing to use their clothes as a way to empower women.

Fashion and body image aren’t exactly two coinciding terms. All too often, fashion designers create unrealistic body standards for women. However, this does not occur in Iceland. Elinros Lindal and Katrin Maria Karadottir Ellahey didn’t like the way that fashion spoke to women. They realized that it was creating unrealistic images, and generally making women feel worse about their bodies instead of better. Putting on clothes isn’t always a great experience for women, and they began designing to change that.

“[The Fashion Industry] was telling them that they weren’t thin enough or young enough and we just kept thinking, ‘hey, women can lead countries. You aren’t going to tell them what to do or what to be,” Lindal said. They made their company’s mission: “We think how we can empower women through every single Ella piece we make”.

Other designers in Iceland are doing the exact same thing. Una Hlin head designer for the brand Anderson and Lauth sent highly tailored, almost masculine garments with fine feminine embroidery down the runway at Reykjavik Fashion Festival this year. She didn’t want to create typical women’s clothing. Hlin told Fashionista “When I wear a great suit I feel empowered, but I also know that sometimes you need to think like a man and act like a man and so I tried to put the feminine with the masculine into this year’s line”.

Along with fashion, many leadership seminars are being held to erase the payment gap between men and women. Just Fearless, an international multi-media organization focused on women’s empowerment announced the “Reykjavík Women Empowering Women Symposium”, which was held in Iceland last December.

“We are coming to Iceland to inspire women but more importantly, to learn from the women of Iceland as they lead the world when it comes to women’s rights and true gender equality. Reykjavík will be one of our best international W.E.W.S. events for which we are so excited,” Kisha Mays, CEO of Just Fearless said.

All countries can take note of the attitude that Iceland holds towards women. Iceland has nearly eliminated its gender gap (like most Nordic countries) and was ranked first in 2012 for the smallest Gender gap in the world by the World Economic Forum. The United States was ranked twenty-second. Women should be able to be equal to men—both in leadership, payment and clothing. To see an entire country band together for women’s equality is inspiring, and that attitude should be adopted by the United States and around the world.