'Daily Show' Correspondent Desi Lydic Investigates Gender Equality in America and Iceland in 'Abroad'

The comedian visited Iceland, Namibia and Spain on her quest to figure out why the U.S. is so far behind on reaching gender equality.
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'The Daily Show' host Trevor Noah and Desi Lydic at SXSW 2019

After noticing that the United States was ranked 49th on the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report that measures gender equality, The Daily Show correspondent Desi Lydic set out to further investigate. The result of this deep dive was her hourlong special Abroad, which aired in full during Monday night's episode.

"America, the greatest country in the world, minus 48," declared Lydic in voiceover at the top of the special. In reference to its low ranking, economic opportunity and the wage gap were highlighted along with the reality that women need better-paid jobs and more positions of leadership. 

Noting that her career has taken her "to the frontline in the battle for gender equality," she promptly landed in Iceland, the country ranked number one on the report.

Lydic labeled Iceland "a vast barren tundra, the edge of the world" and found their small population to be full of "happy people." Learning that the country has led the world in equality for nine years, Lydic conducted a series of interviews to become more informed about the culture and politics. Businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir told her about former female president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who began her role in 1980 and served for 16 years while being a single mother. 

Despite Iceland's ranking of number one, Tomasdottir emphasized that she would like to see a lot more women in leadership roles.

Continuing her quest, Lydic went on to interview a male attorney from Iceland who took the standard parental leave, nine months — a situation Lydic found curious because of how unusual this would be in the U.S.  She went undercover in his firm to try and witness the "turmoil" that must have happened during his absence, but found that all the employees were working as normal. "Everywhere I traveled, the [people in Iceland] were content," Lydic concluded.

She then visited Namibia and learned that they have equal rights for women built into their constitution. In talking to locals, Lydic found "generations of women who fought for their space and occupied the shit out of it." 

In Spain, Lydic met with representatives from the city council in Madrid, who have a whole department dedicated to gender equality. "We need to change the culture of power, which is mainly masculine," said an employee.

Back in her home country, Lydic declared her drive for equality to be "reinvigorated." Joking that her jetlag was keeping her awake, she thought of some ideas for improvement such as confronting toxic masculinity. This led to a joke about "pooping" on Harvey Weinstein's doorstep.

When the U.S. fell to number 51 on the equality report, Lydic's enthusiasm waned only momentarily.