Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir

Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir

Established in 1907, the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association (IWRA) was the first formal organization of Icelandic women to focus its efforts on the struggle for political equality between men and women, as well as demanding equal access to education, political appointments and the workplace.

The founder of IWRA was Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, a leading voice in the Icelandic suffrage movement. She served as the first chair of the association and held that office until 1927, when her daughter, Laufey Valdimarsdóttir, took over the post.

Our Mission

In recent years, the focus of IWRA’s work has been increasing women‘s representation in politics, eradicating gender income inequality, increasing the number of women in the police force and the judicial system, lobbying to make gender studies a mandatory subject in secondary schools, and raising awareness about harassment and violence against women online.

Upon request by the Icelandic parliament and individual government ministers, we study and formally comment on parliamentary proposals and on other matters relevant to gender equality.

We actively support women‘s culture and women artists, and encourage the excavation, preservation and celebration of women‘s history in Iceland. We publish one of Iceland’s oldest magazines, 19. júní, an annual magazine about equality and women’s rights, first published in 1951.

We have published several books about women in politics and culture. Our most ambitious publication to date has been the history of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association 1907-1992, which, even today, remains the most complete record of the women’s rights movement in 20th century Iceland.

We regularly host open meetings, conferences, seminars and other events on gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s history and culture.

Our Organization

The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association is committed to cross-political action. Between 1944 and 2015, representatives from all  political parties in Althingi, the Parliament of Iceland, served on the board of IWRA. Since 2015, IWRA has hosted annual meetings and talks on gender equality and women’s representation in politics in cooperation with all political parties represented in Althingi.

IWRA is a founding member of the Icelandic Human Rights Centre. IWRA actively cooperates with partner organizations in the Nordic and Baltic states, and has been a member of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) since 1907 and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) since 2019.

The President of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association is Tatjana Latinovic. Helga Dögg Björgvinsdóttir serves as Vice President.

Other executive board members are Ellen Calmon, Hildur Helga Gísladóttir, Rut Einarsdóttir, Sólveig Jónasdóttir and Stefanía Sigurðardóttir . Alternate board members are Eva Huld Ívarsdóttir, Lára Aðalsteinsdóttir and Maria Hjarðar.

Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir serves as Secretary General.