The Act on the Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men (Equal Rights Law) took effect in 2008. The aim of the legislation was to establish and maintain equal rights and opportunities for women and men, thus equalizing the status of the genders in all areas of society. Iceland's policy, as the law demonstrates, is that all individuals should have equal opportunities in using their drive and developing their talents, regardless of gender. The Law is further supported by anti-discrimination laws, such as laws established in 2018 on the equal rights of individuals in society in general (no. 85/2018) and on the labor market (no. 86/2018).
The Equal Rights Law was established as an overarching legal framework for Icelandic society to operate by in order to eliminate gender based discrimination. This goal is to be achieved through various means, for example by continually considering equal rights perspectives and working towards gender mainstreaming in policy creation and decision making in all sectors of society; working towards women and men's equal influence in society; improving the status of women in particular and their opportunities in society; combating pay inequality and other gender based discrimination on the labor market; enabling both women and men in finding harmony between their careers and home lives; promoting education on matters of inequality; analyzing statistical information on a gender basis; Combating gender based violence and sexual harassment; and changing traditional gender stereotypes and combating negative stereotypes about the roles of women and men.
Iceland places a great deal of importance on gender equality. The Equal Rights Law is seen in action throughout Icelandic legislation, regulations and society as a whole. The Law has put pressure on individuals and committees with decision making power to ensure that their actions are in accordance with the Law and ensuring that they do not engage in discriminatory practices.
The Icelandic Filmmaking Policy of 2016-2019 for example, takes gender issues into account by calling for an equalization of the roles of both genders within the filmmaking industry by ensuring that financial support from the Icelandic Film Fund to each gender is equal. The Policy also emphasizes appropriate representation from both genders within the various positions held by individuals in filmmaking. The Icelandic Film Centre works in conjunction with the Film Council, a council of seven individuals nominated by the Minister of Education, Science and Culture from various facets of the Icelandic filmmaking industry, to create a system where this progress is measured and evaluated.
Allocations from the Film Fund also reflect this legislation and the ideology behind it. While projects that feature a woman in a key role in script writing, direction or production are much more seldom applied for, their success ratios are generally better than that of males. As such, the fund in some way equalizes the support given to various projects and the gender ratio. In 2019 for example, the fund received a total of 57 applications for support in the production of films. A majority, or 66.7% of these projects, had men listed as their directors. Only 31.6% of the projects' directors were listed as female, with 1.8% registered as both genders. Fund allocations however ended up supporting projects where in 53.6% of cases the director was listed as male, and in 42.9% of cases listed as female, while 3.6% were allocated to both genders.
The Artists' Salary Fund is another example of a fund whose allocations reflect the Equal Rights Law. The Artists' Salary Fund provides numerous artists every year with the opportunity to pursue their craft. Considering the number of salaried months allocated each year, over the course of the five year period between 2015 and 2019, on average 52.27% of allocations went to women.
The Equal Rights Law plays a pivotal role in Iceland's efforts to achieve gender equality through a legislative framework. The legislation provides the foundation for operating rules and guidelines of institutions and organizations, setting the scene for a society which places great emphasis on gender equality and equal rights in general.