A woman bicycles past the Althingi Parliament building in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Oct. 24, 2017. I
Halldor Kolbeins, AFP/Getty Images

Until now women in Iceland have earned an average 19% less than their male colleagues. But those days are over. A new law makes equal pay for equal work a must in the country — irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.

The new law, which went into effect New Year's Day, covers about 150,000 workers in the country. The measure applies to 1,200 companies in Iceland that have at least 25 workers, and the firms will have to publish their wage scales. 

A statement from the Ministry of Welfare said the law was a world first, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. 

There are courses to help the companies implement the new pay scales. Upon completion, the companies get a certificate that have to be renewed every three years.

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The measure intends to close the gender pay gap by 2022. Although other countries have made similar moves, for now Iceland is the global pioneer. 

"The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organizations ... evaluate every job that's being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally," Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, told Al Jazeera.