Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women

Discover Stouffville Blog

Iceland, the tiny Nordic island, is currently demonstrating that, although small, they are doing big things.  These big things relate to gender equality, as for the past twelve years, the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report has ranked Iceland number one on its list of countries closing the gender gap in equality between men and women.

How is Iceland accomplishing this?

The answer, according to Eliza Reid, is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word that means extraordinary or outstanding women.

Reid, Canadian born and raised, is now the First Lady of Iceland.  In Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World, she examines her adopted homeland’s attitude toward women.  Iceland has a long and rich history of notable female firsts: they elected the world’s first female president in 1980, they became the most gender-equal parliament in the world without a quota system, and in 2009 elected Jó.0anna Sigurðardóttir, the first openly lesbian head of government as prime minister.

Throughout the book, Reid digs into these remarkable milestones, explores Iceland’s cultural norms and how they shape all aspects of society, and highlights areas where Iceland can improve.  Reid also weaves her interviews with Iceland’s sprakkar amongst the other text, allowing the women who participated in the project to shine.

Reid’s writing style is warm and unguarded; this is a refreshing stance for a First Lady actively engaged in Iceland’s politics.  As Simon and Schuster, the book’s publisher, asks: “What makes many women’s experiences in Iceland so positive? And what can we learn about fairness to benefit our society?”  The solution lies in the lessons of the sprakkar.

Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World is available at WSPL in regular print format and as an ebook on Cloud Library.

Kate Scheiers
Coordinator of Community Engagement
Whitchurch-Stouffvile Public Library


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