Iceland Politician To Hold Discussion With Men On Feminism, Inspired By Emma Watson


Attention all men, please pay attention to your new political hero. His name is Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, and he is Iceland’s Foreign Minister. Why are we crushing on this guy right now? Because he is holding a very important discussion in January in New York about gender equality, and we have Emma Watson to thank for his inspiring actions.

Just when you thought Emma Watson’s now-famous ‘He for She’ speech about how men are a vital part of the gender equality conversation was yesterday’s news, along comes another male who has been impacted in such a way that he wants to take action. We say “another” because shortly after her speech went viral came the news of a 15 year old British school boy who wrote an impassioned and bold letter to his local newspaper about why he is deciding to take up the call for boys in his generation. Amazing!

It’s not just the younger generation that are going to be a catalyst for how the world is changing in the future, people of all ages have an important part to play. If culture is the accumulative actions of a large population, then if we all choose our actions consciously, rather than just following the crowd, we can actively change whatever negative culture may exist.

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, will now host a ‘Barbershop Conference’ in New York on January 14-15, to try and get men discussing what it means to be a man and a woman in 2015.

“We decided to put forward this idea, maybe we can say that it is contribution to the discussion on gender equality and violence against women,” he told the Telegraph. “We’re going to have guys meeting together to talk about gender equality.”

“It’s referring to what happens in barbershops and locker rooms and what do boys talk about – politics, girls,” he said, in reference to the name ‘barbershop’. “We’re here to change this discussion that we have when we go to the barber. We have to change these stereotypes and these ideas that are in men’s heads when it comes to women.”

“If there’s violence against women, there’s most likely a man somewhere,” he continued. “You cannot change these things without discussing it with men. We have to know how bad it is and respect the other sex.”


There will be three sessions in total which will be attended by ambassadors, leaders, politicians and key policy-makers from around the world. Part of what he wants to share with men is that they can’t just pretend the problem of inequality doesn’t exist and that it doesn’t concern them.

“They need to be part of the solution. It’s not hard to sit behind a desk and say this isn’t my problem, but it is our problem. It’s difficult to find a solution without the guys discussing it.”

A conversation, he says, is only the start. He also believes many current world leaders still don’t think of gender equality as an important issue.

“Unfortunately most of the world leaders are men, so they should sit down and discuss gender equality between themselves and attend this conference in New York. My advice to other countries is sit down with open eyes and an open heart and open mind and think, what can you do to fix these things and make them better? At the end of the day it is one of the most beneficial things for their country and their society to have equality between both sexes and to stop this violence.”

He cites examples of what has been transpiring in Iceland over the past three decades, with paternity leave, and actively encouraging more women to be part of their society. And like many other leaders and advocates of women’s rights, he says empowering more women in public life will help any economy.

The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report for 2014 ranks Iceland as the number 1 country in terms of the greatest amount of equality in society, but it still has work to do. However, given that the country’s top politicians are putting emphasis on such an issue, it shows why they are at the top of the table. This is the 5th year in a row that Iceland has taken the top spot.

Like Emma Watson said in her speech, echoing the impactful words of John. F Kennedy “If not me, who? If not now, when?”




One Comment

  1. Pingback: Iceland Is Officially The First Country In The World To Make It Illegal To Pay Women Less Than Men - GirlTalkHQ

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