Inspiring Portraits Of Life In The Most Gender Equal Place In The World
In a world still buzzing on patriarchy, countries are constantly pitted against each other to declare one of them as the gender equality utopia of the lot. One nation repeatedly coming out on top is Iceland, but how do we confirm it's the equality paradise we're told it is?
Well, the remote little island in the North Atlantic has been granted the most gender equal of all for the last seven years, it's had a female head of state for 20 out of 50 years and it might be the first country to totally close its gender gap. If there was one thing we could statistically call a feminist utopia then, it's Iceland.
And that's pretty much how London-based photographer and writer Gabrielle Motola sees the island. Striving to discover what it's really like for those living in such a dynamic and fair country, in 2013 she trekked to the quirky Nordic nation to find out for herself. And the results are just like we're told.
After snapping a diverse range of over 70 inspiring Icelanders, Motola has compiled An Equal Difference, a book to share the stories and beauty staked out from locals on her escapade. On her Kickstarter page, she says:
"My process began with wondering what women’s minds would be like in comparison to those in the societies in which I had previously lived (the USA and UK) – societies that provide relatively little support for women’s biological responsibilities and tend to raise girls who struggle with self esteem issues.
"I wanted to know what makes gender equality work on a practical level. How does it influence the way one thinks and operates in society? How does it shape society itself?"
Attempting to understand a culture striving for equality in a world, Motola says, "drowning in inequality", the photographer snapped away. Gaining a mountain of knowledge on the philosophical and psychological aspects of experiencing gender equity, the book provides a snapshot of exactly how it is.
Though her portraits were originally just of women, after time she realised men must be included, but not in a patronising or overshadowing manner:
"My goal with this work is to inspire individuals. The development of the self is essential to the healthy development of any society. Then collectively, we can action our societies to close their gender gap through healthy and effective measures.
After studying the ways Iceland is managing to do this, I’m certain that the movement towards equality must include men or it will not be equality."
While Motola's images and book subverts many Western stereotypes and norms, they offer up hope that one day too, if our country's leaders buck up, we might live in a society that doesn't see the rise of women as the fall of man.
The book's Kickstarter has seven days left to get the last stages of portraits and writing funded. It might be a tight one.
By Lydia Morrish, published on 24/02/2016