In the Land of Independent Mothers

In Iceland, some 67 percent of babies are born to parents who are not married. A combination of generous social programs and a secular society have all but made nuptials obsolete—while giving rise to a unique culture of independent motherhood. Annie Ling spent two months photographing these mothers in the Nordic country, documenting their daily lives and struggles. “A lack of social stigma and a relaxed attitude towards marriage and sexual morality makes raising a family as a single parent in Iceland more feasible,” Ling said. Living in a small community means relatives are often close by and can pitch in on childcare. That doesn’t mean, of course, that independent motherhood is easy. “Despite being recognized as an egalitarian society and the most feminist country in the world, there are still challenges,” Ling said. Iceland has one of the highest gender pay gaps in Europe, which means that female-lead households earn considerably less than those lead by men.

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