Gender equality becomes focus of Icelandic schools


Gender equality has become a stable movement in Northeastern Europe. The movement in Iceland has begun due to Icelandic schools incorporating reverse gender role behaviors for their students.

Macee Trottner, Editor

In Reykjavik, Iceland, Hjalli schools strongly enforce gender equality throughout all grade levels. The administration for the schools begins teaching the students about gender equality and the importance of understanding the opposite gender when the students attend nursery school.

Iceland is consistently ranked as one of the first in the world for gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum, Icelanders consider it a source of pride to be the top ranked country for nine years in a row. Iceland’s success has began putting women into legal positions and having them take power. These women have created alternatives to the normal male dominance as well as raising awareness for discriminatory practices that include sexual harassment and abuse.

“The best way to get closer to equality is to admit the differences,” Ólafsdóttir, the radical feminist who founded Hjalli schools, said. Iceland has gradually been able to incorporate men and women sharing power and coming together to deal with the decision-making processes of the island.

During a normal school day at Hjalli schools, boys and girls are separated for the majority of the day. To compensate for the absence of the other gender, the teachers have each of the students practice behaviors usually performed by the opposite gender. These behaviors include being daring and taking initiative and helpfulness and being considerate of the other children around them.

An example of these gender roles being reversed is when the teachers have the male students pretend they are babysitters. “We have to get the babies ready because their parents are coming soon,” Óli said, as he laid gender-neutral rag dolls out one-by-one under the table in what appeared to be an imaginary bed.

When you only have girls, there is nothing girly anymore, it’s like the gender stereotype goes away,” Ólafsdóttir said. This shows the commitment that the Hjalli schools have to combating  gender stereotypes.

The Hjalli schools in Iceland and the gender equality mindset of Iceland has taken steps to combat the gender stereotype. Surrounding countries such as Norway have also been inspired by Iceland’s commitment to gender equality.