Jams & cakes & power in numbers

Iceland’s cardamom-spiced twisted doughnut

For the district’s annual sheep round-up, the West Iceland Women’s Association was running a busy pit stop, keeping farmers and spectators well fueled for the day. Gislina Jensdottir, who joined the association in 1986, is famed for her kleinur (Iceland’s cardamom-spiced twisted doughnut) and known in the area as the Kleinur Queen.

Ingibjörg Adda Konraðsdóttir decided to bring her homemade sandwiches, explaining that each member prepares what they enjoy most, “this way it stays fun for us ladies and people get to taste each of our specialties”. But Iceland’s Kvenfélög (Women’s Associations) are more than bake sales and chatter.

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For a country of only 336,000 spread across thousands of square kilometers keeping close community ties takes some organization. How do you stay connected to both your local community and the national agenda that matters to you when you live your life in the Icelandic countryside, often far away from the capital city and other larger communities? 

Despite the distance, Icelanders have managed (or more precisely, Icelandic women have managed) to figure out a way. Since 1939 women have organized themselves into local Kvenfélag chapters with the goal of creating a platform for women to cooperate and stay connected to other women all over the country through a forum of common interests. Yes, there’s quite a lot of baking and coffee and good conversation. No one ever said staying connected couldn't taste good.

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