When I was growing up in Iceland, I was surrounded by powerful women. My mother came from the “West fjords” in northwest Iceland where life was harsh, nature was brutal and women often had to lead the fight for their families´ survival.
My grandmother on my father’s side came from the relatively isolated Snaefellsnes peninsula. In most coastal areas in Iceland, the main livelihood at the beginning of the 20th century came from fishing the treacherous North Atlantic. My great-grandfather, Adalsteinn, had bought his own fishing boat to provide for his family: my great-grandmother Helga, for whom I am named, and my grandmother Kristin for whom I also named. Adalstein’s ship tragically went down on the coast, visible to the village where he had been born and in front of his wife and two-year-old daughter.
The day after, the officials of the area came to collect all of the belongings of the family to pay for the boat that had just gone down so tragically.
Fortunately Helga had a good friend, a woman, who agreed before the officials arrived that it would be best that Helga would give her belongings to her, to prevent them from being taken from her. A powerful act by a powerful friend who managed to save family treasures, some of which still belong to the family. When my wonderful Aunt Helga (also named after our grandmother) told me this story, I was impressed by the power of this incident and the kindness and courage shown by my great-grandmother’s friend in those days.
Since I was a young woman, my group of friends and I have shared stories of our foremothers in Iceland. We have talked about great women heroes of ours, like the first woman president of the Republic of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, Audur Laxness, the wife of our Nobel prize winner, the women settlers and Viking women who went through tough situations, took risks, and found a way to survive powerfully in making the world more tolerable to those around them. We have made trips to honor these women, visited their places of birth and so on and so forth.
Now I want to take this concept even further and to connect international women and men and Icelandic women and men together with an inspirational trip to Iceland.
The idea is to join together men and women from around the world, to connect, share past and present stories, develop new contacts and possibilities in a wonderful, powerful and inspiring location in Iceland, and to interact with women leaders (and male leaders) in a country with a long and continuing commitment to equality and empowerment.
This is possible all year round and for groups with 4 to 15 members, and combines well with visits to many of Iceland’s natural treasures and other cultural highlights.
Involving both men and women in the process of gender equality is essential for future sustainability.
If you are interested in joining a group of friends or your workplace and get to know the power of equality in Iceland please contact Iceland Unwrapped
Two of Iceland´s most inspiring women
Picture by Frida Hjaltested