Gender equality is a core value of the Finnish society. The day of Equality has been officially celebrated in Finland on March 19 since 2003. In Finland, the day is known as “Minna Canth’s Day”. Minna Canth was an influential writer who lived in the 19th century. Ms Canth was well ahead of her time. She wrote about social issues, especially gender equality in a very progressive and realistic way. Minna Canth personally influenced the advancement of women’s rights in Finland for example by bringing public attention to women’s position in society.
Gender equality is not only a matter of fairness and justice. Our experience in Finland shows that investing in equality also makes sense in economic terms. A key success factor has been promoting gender equality through legislation and structures, including public services, infrastructure and social protection policies.
Finland owes much of its development to the wise decision to give women full political rights early on. We were the first in the world to do that in 1906. Providing women with free and effective opportunities for participation in political and economic life is truly important.
In spite of the achievements, Finland still has a lot to do. For example, gender stereotypes and sexism are still issues that we need to work on. In the context of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of Europe, an event on tackling gender stereotypes and sexism will take place in Helsinki at the end of this month. Equality and women’s rights is one of our Presidency’s priorities.
I wish everyone a happy Day of Equality!