Equality Education in Schools

Ever since the first Equality laws were put in place in 1976 it has been mandatory for Icelandic schools to educate their students on equality of the genders and to prepare all genders to participate in family and work life.

The Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender, states that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science shall monitor compliance with gender equality in schools and educational institutions, including sports and leisure activities. The Ministry issues the National Curriculum for pre-schools, junior schools, and senior schools. Among six pillars that are to underpin all education one stands for equality. The equality pillar is comprised of several factors: age, class, culture, descent, gender, disability, language, nationality, outlook on life, race, religion, residence, sexual orientation. The Directorate of Equality works with schools to facilitate the implementation of gender equality education and gender equality action plans.

The duties according to art. 15 of the act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender no. 150/2020 are very clear.

 

Article 15
Education and schooling  

  • Gender and equality mainstreaming shall be observed in all policy-making and planning in the work of schools and educational institutions, including after-school activity centres, and in sports and leisure activities.
  • At all levels of the educational system, pupils shall receive appropriate instruction on equality and gender issues, including about gender stereotypes, gender-based choice of education and occupation and on matters concerning people with disabilities and queer people. 
  • All educational materials and textbooks shall be designed in such a way as not to discriminate against any gender.
  • In presentations on educational and vocational opportunities, and in counselling in the schools, all pupils shall receive instruction and counselling regarding the same jobs, irrespective of their gender.

     

The Ministry of Education’s responsibilities according to art. 15. Of the laws of equal status and equal rights of the sexes:

  • Studies of the status of the genders in Icelandic society shall be enhanced, this applying equally to primary academic research and to applied studies, and their findings shall be disseminated systematically within the educational system and to the media.
  • The ministry in charge of education affairs shall monitor compliance with gender equality in schools and educational institutions, as well as in after-school activity centres and sports and leisure activities. Furthermore, the ministry in charge of education affairs shall monitor developments in these areas of society as regards gender equality.
  • A gender equality counsellor shall be employed within the ministry in charge of education and shall pursue the application of the provisions of this Article and advise the relevant parties on gender equality issues, including affirmative action to promote gender equality. 

     

The school administration's responsibilities according to art. 14. Gender-based violence, gender-based harassment, and sexual harassment.

  • Employers and the directors of institutions, civil society organisations and sports and youth organisations shall take special measures to protect their employees, students and clients from gender-based violence, gender-based harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace or
    institution, social activities or schools.  
  • If a superior is charged with alleged gender-based violence, alleged gender-based harassment or alleged sexual harassment, he or she shall be non-competent to take decisions regarding the working conditions of the plaintiff during the examination of the case, and the
    next superior shall take such decisions.

     

 

Word Definitions:

Direct discrimination 

When an individual receives less favourable treatment than another individual receives, has received, or would receive in comparable situations, due to any of the factors mentioned in the first paragraph of Article 1.

Indirect discrimination

When an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts individuals of one gender at a disadvantage compared with individuals of another gender, unless this can be objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. 

 Multiple discrimination

When an individual is subjected to discrimination on the basis of more than one reason for discrimination that this Act, the Act on Equal Treatment Irrespective of Race or Ethnic Origin, and the Act on Equal Treatment on the Labour Market provide protection against. Multiple discrimination can either be integrated in such a way that two or more reasons for discrimination create a special basis for discrimination, or it can be dual/multiple so that the discrimination is based on two or more independent reasons for discrimination.

 Gender-based harassment 

Behaviour linked to the affected person’s gender, having the purpose or effect of offending the dignity of the person involved and creating circumstances that are threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting for the person in question.

 Sexual harassment

Any kind of sexual behaviour having the purpose or effect of offending the dignity of the person affected by it, especially when this behaviour creates circumstances that are threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting for the person in question. The behaviour can be verbal, symbolic and/or physical.

 Gender-based violence 

Violence based on gender which results in, or could result in, physical, sexual or psychological injury or suffering on the part of the affected person, including the threat of such, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of freedom, both in private life and in a public venue.