Women of Iceland

November 29, 2017

As per my previous post, I recently traveled to Iceland with a group of my bestie female photographer friends.  It’s a group of women I met on a photo project in Thailand where we were teaching photography to girls rescued/at-risk of sex-trafficking.  None of us having met prior to the trip, hit it off splendidly as if we were kindred spirits, and have since been coordinating annual reunion trips all around the country and world.

I met Lilja in a bookstore in Reykjavic.

This year we ventured to Iceland to take in the varied and awe-inspiring landscape, as well as learn more about the culture, people, customs and traditions.  Iceland was never really high on my travel list, but I will never say no to any country I haven’t been to before.  I believe there is always something to learn and see.  With that in mind, and after learning about the Women’s Day Off movement and that the first democratically-elected female president was from Iceland, I knew there was a draw for me that delved deeper than the landscape.

Sigga is the owner of Solvangúr Icelandic Horse Center in Selfoss.

I found out we would be there for the anniversary of Women’s Day Off, October 24th, and devised a portrait series and project to conduct throughout our ventures across the island.  As I traversed the Ring Road, I photographed portraits of various local women living in Iceland, and asked them one question, “What does it feel like to be a woman in gender progressive Iceland?”  I was astounded, pleasantly surprised, and cheering along side each girl or woman who was gracious enough to let me photograph and interview them.  These women came from all types of backgrounds.  Some I met in a local coffee shop, at a restaurant where we had lunch, a tour operator for the glacial lagoon, retail store employees, and even the owner of a guesthouse where we stayed.

Birta is a waitress in a restaurant where we had lunch in Hofn.

I found some of the women were a bit shy, however once they started to answer my question and gave thought to how lucky they are to be living in such a pro-gender country, the words built upon themselves to form a platform to showcase Iceland to the world.  Pride emanated from each of them, their eyes sparkled, and they were very happy to share with a foreign audience about the normalization of gender equality that still has to be fought for on a daily basis, despite government rules and regulations guaranteeing equality.

Some were quick and concise with their answers, others elaborated and turned their interview into a soul-bearing conversation with me, a stranger.  I learned being a female and asking other females about gender equality, immediately formed a bond, and opened discussion between the two of us.  It’s one I eagerly welcomed and would have loved to sit and spend an hour or so more with each women or girl I spoke to.  It certainly was an enlightening experience, and one I am proud to share.




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