"Secrets of the Sprakkar is a fascinating window into what a more gender-equal world could look like, and why it's worth striving for. Iceland is doing a lot to level the playing field: paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and broad support for gender equality as a core value. Reid takes us on an exploration not only around this fascinating island, but also through the triumphs and stumbles of a country as it journeys towards gender equality."
—Hillary Rodham Clinton
Iceland is the best place on earth to be a woman—but why?
For the past twelve years, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Iceland number one on its list of countries closing the gap in equality between men and women. What is it about Iceland that makes many women's experience there so positive? Why has their society made such meaningful progress in this ongoing battle, from electing the world's first female president to passing legislation specifically designed to help even the playing field at work and at home? And how can we learn from what Icelanders have already discovered about women's powerful place in society and how increased fairness benefits everyone?
Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland, examines her adopted homeland's attitude toward women—the deep-seated cultural sense of fairness, the influence of current and historical role models, and, crucially, the areas where Iceland still has room for improvement. Reid's own experience as an immigrant from small-town Canada who never expected to become a first lady is expertly interwoven with interviews with dozens of sprakkar ("extraordinary women") to form the backbone of an illuminating discussion of what it means to move through the world as a woman, and how the rules of society play more of a role in who we view as "equal" than we may understand. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
Chapter 1 An Immigrant in Iceland 1
Chapter 2 Helping Parents Helps Us All 22
The Saga-Era Sprakki Who Defied Convention 45
Chapter 3 The Strength in Sisterhood 47
Chapter 4 Stigma-Free Sexuality 70
The No-Holds-Barred Sprakki of the Middle Ages 93
Chapter 5 Claiming the Corporate Purse Strings 95
Chapter 6 Being Seen and Heard in the Media 117
The Undaunted Sprakki Who Fought for Nature 137
Chapter 7 Finding Harmony in the Wild 140
Chapter 8 Art as an Instrument of Equality 160
The Sprakkar Who Rallied a Nation 183
Chapter 9 No Woman Is an Island 186
The Sprakki Who Shattered the Glass Ceiling 206
Chapter 10 Politics on Her Own Terms 209
Chapter 11 Within Reach 231
Appendix 1 List of Interviews 252
Appendix 2 Further Reading 255
Reading Group Guide 258
About the Author 278