UNDP awards Iceland gold certification for its gender equality efforts

UNDP Gender Seal_Iceland
UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner (left), and Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Thórdís Kolbrún Gylfadóttir Reykfjörd, during the event.

Iceland has become the first donor country to receive the gold certification on gender equality under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Equality Seal Programme.

The programme works with public institutions and organizations across the world to achieve excellency in standards to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Seal empowers managers from the private and public sectors to build cultures of equality and inclusion.

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, officially handed the certification to Thórdís Kolbrún Gylfadóttir Reykfjörd, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, during an award ceremony in New York today.

“Remarkably, some 2.5 billion women and girls live in countries with at least one discriminatory law still in place,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “This award is a recognition of Iceland’s role as a beacon country to drive forward cutting-edge ways to break down such outdated barriers — and inspire others far beyond its borders. Together with key partners like Iceland, UNDP is advancing #GenerationEquality in every corner of the globe, a key means to end the scourge of extreme poverty and accelerate a green recovery.”

Equal Pay Day

Among its many contributions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland led efforts to establish the UN Resolution on International Equal Pay Day, now recognized globally to raise awareness on and close gender pay gaps. Iceland has also established a whole-of-society approach to address sexual and reproductive rights in Malawi, with declining rates of maternal mortality, improved access to contraceptives and family planning, and working to prevent gender-based violence. In Uganda, Iceland continues to help the government to break socio-cultural barriers, such as by working to end period poverty, thereby improving girls’ access to education.

UNDP’s innovative Gender Equality Seal programme recognizes institutions that have met international standards on gender equality. Participants can achieve a Bronze, Silver, or Gold certification. The Seal provides guidance and accompanies institutions across their organizational transformation. The UNDP Gender Equality Seal is one of the most rigorous and prestigious certifications measuring the competence and achievements of public and private institutions in advancing women’s rights and corporate gender equality goals.

Iceland and UNDP

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, including its missions in Uganda and Malawi, has been working closely with UNDP since 2019 on this initiative.

“We are extremely proud to have been awarded the gold certification. The Gender Seal has been a valuable learning process and we walk away equipped with tools and ideas on how to further strengthen our work on gender equality, both through mainstreaming across programmes as well as through targeted and transformative actions,” said Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Thórdís Kolbrún Gylfadóttir Reykfjörd during the event. “The gold certification underlines Iceland’s pioneering work within the sphere of gender equality, and we are excited to continue working with UNDP, hopefully encouraging other donors to undertake the process.”

The Gender Equality Seal programme was launched over a decade ago. The initiative has since inspired governments, organizations and the private sector to take concrete actions to advance gender equality. For instance, in Latin America companies developed protocols to prevent and address violence agaisnt women in the workplace. The programme has worked with more than 600 private and public institutions globally, including other UN entities such as the World Food Programme  and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.