- Gender Equality law
- Anti-discrimination law
- Laws on quotas, above all in the political and economic fields
- Other laws/statutory regulations and government programmes
Scientific institutions and sources:
Brief description and evaluation
Gender equality policy in Finland is organised at state and non-state level. Numerous strong national women's organisations can be found in civil society, including within the political parties, though there is no visible, organised men’s policy. What's more, gender and women’s research is prominent and has a well-developed network. A variety of state institutions for gender equality exists at national level, including an ombudsperson and a respective arbitra-tion and complaints body.
One noteworthy body is the gender statistics department at the national statistics office, which publishes information at regular intervals and also issues direct policy statements and provides political advice (See the Noteworthy section for more on this.).
That Finnish women hold 42% of the seats in parliament and 60% of all government jobs is a sign that they have reached the goal entrenched within society of achieving equal opportuni-ties for women and men in politics, and there can be no question that women have ceased to be marginalised, even though not everything is as ideal as it could be. Today, Finland is as shining an example of how gender relations can work in politics as it was in 1906 when it became the first nation in Europe to introduce women's suffrage and, in an address given in 2010, the country's most senior representative, President Tarja Halonen ("Empowering women is the best way to build a better world, but we need both women and men.") furthermore calls for measures to aid the continued breakup of traditional gender patterns – for the benefit of women and men.
Gender equality in Finland - the early years:
Finland led the way in the European fight for women's rights even though the progress achieved in the country was afforded very little attention in the discussion that was ensuing in Central Europe. Patriarchal marriage property law was repealed as early as 1885, and Finland's lower house introduced the separation of property. Under this law, women retained their right to their own property, even in marriage. Finland also blazed the trail for women's citizenship rights: in 1906, women there became the first in Europe to receive full voting rights.
(Source: Wikipedia, Women's Rights)
The number of women participating in the labour market is 72%, which is on a par with that of men. 83% of all women, including women with small children, work full-time. One reason for this is the country's well-developed support system for children and school meals. This makes it possible for both parents to work full-time.
In terms of parental leave and the allowance paid by the state, mothers receive an allowance for the first 105 days, with payment for the subsequent 158 days being made to either the father or the mother. This state allowance, in combination with other childcare regulations (most notably for the care of children under three years of age) forms the backbone of the two-provider-family policy. At 1.8 children per woman, the birth rate ranks above the OECD average.
Gender equality has long been a fundamental value in Finland. It is embedded in the constitu-tion in general, and specifically in the Equality Act.
The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health plays a key role in the advancement of gender equality by:
- preparing bills,
- describing and monitoring the gender equality situation nationwide,
- coordinating the development of gender equality activities,
- furthering the implementation of government measures.
The main topics underlying Finland’s promotion of gender equality are:
- Gender mainstreaming
- Equality in working life
- Equal pay
- Equality in education
- Women and decision-making authority
- Work-life balance
- Prevention of violence against women
- Men and equality
Gender equality principles in Finland also cover equity irrespective of age, origin, language, faith or health. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for implementing gen-der equality in the workplace through the network of health and safety inspectors.
Over and above this, gender equality matters are under the remit of the Ministry of the Interior
Every four years, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, in conjunction with the statistical office, publishes the Equality Barometer.
On 21.10.2010, the Finnish government approved the Report on Gender Equality. It will now be sent to parliament for debate. This is the first report of its kind to be produced in Finland. Its aim is to evaluate the government’s gender equality policy and to compare data spanning the past ten years. At the core of the report is the definition of future policy up to 2020.
Further information and contact: The Government approved a Report on Gender Equality
Act on Equality between Women and Men (1987, amended/extended in 1988, 1992, 1995):
Focus: working life, also covers quota regulations, duty of companies with 30 or more em-ployees to adopt gender equality measures, positive influence.
The Equality Act was introduced in 1987 and amended twice, in 1995 and 2002. The Act specifies a duty to purposefully and systematically promote gender equality among all agen-cies and employers and in vocational training as well as in education, teaching and research. Pregnancy and family responsibilities discrimination were banned in 1992. Since 1995, the Act has also stipulated that, if the number of employees in a company is in excess of 30, em-ployer(s) must draft a gender equality plan on an annual basis and take appropriate measures to promote gender equality. The section, which was added in 1995, includes a quota system: on official committees and councils, the proportion of representatives from either gender must not undercut the 40% mark. The 1999 constitution also incorporates the principle of gender equality.
The Body of Equality with its Ombudsman for Equality monitors various forms of discrimi-nation, most notably racial and ethnic-based acts as well as human trafficking. Its website is available in various languages, above all those of nationalities migrating to Finland. The current Ombudsperson for Equality is Eva Biaudet.
- The Ombudsman for Minorities or Ombudsman for Equality (in English, with numerous links to publications and the spheres of responsibility of the om-budsperson.)
Gender quotas (40/60) in government commissions, on advisory boards, in institutions performing similar functions, in municipal institutions (excluding local parliaments) as well as in companies/institutions in which the government holds a stake (dating back to when the Act on Equality was amended in 1995). See also gender equality law.
Finnish constitution (1995): general aim: to promote gender equality
Government Gender Equality Schemes and/or Action Plans (1981-1986, 1997-1999);
Gender Mainstreaming Project (Valtavirtaistamisprojekti) carried out as part of the action plan and with the involvement of 6 ministries (pilot projects)
Participation in the mainstreaming project of the Nordic Council of Ministers
EU Project on the implementation of gender mainstreaming at governmental level (2005-2007) (see Sweden)
The Finnish government has decided to take decisive steps to promote gender equality in all decision-making processes. The government in Finland has summarised its key gender equality benchmarks into an action plan. The government's gender equality action plan is for 2008-2011 and has seven priorities. Subsequent additions to the action plan can be incorporated as often as required.
The action plan has been compiled and will be implemented in cooperation with the ministries. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the implementation of the plan. Organisations will be heard during the action plan period and a final report will be issued in the autumn of 2010. (See also section ‘Summary’)
Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations for Joint Action (Nytkis): founded in1988; network of women's organisations of political parties (8) and non-partisan women's organisations (3); receives annual financial backing from the Ministry of Education, some state project funding; aims/tasks: to improve the living circumstances of women, to im-plement gender equality and social justice, to monitor women's rights in legislation, politics and research; member of the Council for Equality, of EWL, and of NOKS (Nordic platform for women’s cooperation).
NYTKIS - Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations
Bulevardi 11 A 1
Tel +358 9 278 4780
Fax + 358 9 643 193
National Council of women in Finland The National Council of Women in Finland is the umbrella association of women's organisa-tions in Finland and the Finnish member of the International Council of Women (ICW). Pur-pose of the National Council: to promote human rights, especially gender equality and the status of women; to highlight the benefits of gender equality for society, the family and the individual. It strives to increase the share of women in decision-making posts and to illustrate the work carried out by women and women's organisations. The Council acts as a link, coor-dinator and forum for debate for its member organisations.
Minister of Gender Equality Affairs:
since 1980; no separate ministry; minister always responsible for another ministry at the same time; currently attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (in Finnish and in part in English).
Councol for Equality between Men and Women:
founded in 1972 on the initiative of the "equality movement" and a state committee for the situation of women; until 1986, it reported to the Prime Minister, then to the Ministry of So-cial Affairs and Health; three-year tenure; 13 members, all nominated by the parties; perma-nent secretariat and, since 1981, a gender studies coordinator; tasks: policy advice, PR work, research coordination, reform initiatives and draft bills
Address: Council for Equality, PO Box 33, FIN-00023, Government, Finland
Gender Equality Unit:
This department is connected with the Ministry of Finance. Its tasks include accentuating and developing the government's gender equality policy in conjunction with other ministries. Al-ways with respect to gender mainstreaming, gender equality laws and policies of the EU and to other international relations.
Postal address: P.O. Box 33, 00023 GOVERNMENT, FINLAND, street address: Snellman-inkatu 13, 00170 Helsinki, Tel. +358 9 16001, Telefax: +358 9 1607 4317
See also: Tea For Two - Gender equality in Finland
Ombudsman/Woman for Gender Equality + Equality + Equality Board:
since 1987; attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; board with three-year ten-ure; tasks: to monitor gender equality legislation with possible sanctions; complaints body and law suits; workplace inspections
Statistics Finland/Gender Statistics Department:
Annual statistics on the status of women in society, including political involvement/posts as well as special reports on gender equality issues; 1998: first publication of the Barometer for Gender Equality in Finland (in Finnish, and partly in English).
Other gender actors?
Centre for gender equality information in Finnland
a comprehensive website with media links, actors, current dissertations from Finland on the subject, etc. – fully available in English.
Naisjarjestojen Keskusliitto - Central Organization Of Women's Associations
Fredrikinkatu 39 C 22
t. +358 9 494 217
NYTKIS - Coalition of Finnish Women´s Associations
Bulevardi 11 A 1
GSM +358 50 469 6242
UNIONI, The League of Finnish Feminists
Bulevard 11A, Helsinki.
Tel: 0 643 158.
Its goals are to eliminate discrimination against women, to make female culture visible, to foster gender equality and to strengthen and highlight the feminist impact of women. The objective is to achieve a humane society based on gender equality and gender cooperation.
Kokoomuksen Naisten Liitto ry.
Women's league of the coalition party
Kokoomuksen Naisten Liitto ry.
Kansakoulukuja 3, 3.krs
Fax: 0207 488 505
Contact details can be found under the tab "yhteystiedot".
The fundamental goals of the women's league of the coalition party are those of the party: to strengthen Finland's independence and to safeguard and develop a democratic political and legal system that is based on peace and security among people. A specific task of the women's league is to promote women's positions in society and to encourage women to occupy political and decision-making posts. The women's league also participates in peace and development cooperation projects.
Women Of The Democratic League Of Finnish People
(Suomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto/SKDL)
Tel: 358-0-77 081
No website or e-mail available – it is not certain whether this intra-party association still exists.
Council for Equality
(in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; was formerly the Office for Equality)
P.O. Box 267
Finland phone: ++358 9 1603837, +358 9 1601
fax: ++358 9 1604582
Women Of The Swedish Party
14 00180 Helsinki
Gender/Women's studies at universities:
- Åbo Akademi University - Institute of Women's Studies (in Finnish and English)
- University of Helsinki – The Christina Institute for Women's Studies (in Finnish and English)
- Joensuun yliopisto – Naistutkimus (only in Finnish)
- University of Oulu - Women's Studies (in Finnish and English)
- University of Turku - Centre for Women's Studies (in Finnish and English)
- University of Jyväskylä – Women’s Studies (in Finnish and English)
- University of Lapland – Women’s and Gender Studies (in Finnish and English)
Women's studies are organised in a network known as HILMA:
The Finnish Research School in Women’s and Gender Studies
This is an inter-disciplinary postgraduate school for the dynamic, growing field of women's and gender studies in Finland. Here, dissertations are supervised, annual follow-up meetings take place and regular courses and theme-based seminars are held. The Research School works with various partners to organise in-house and international seminars.
- Naistutkimus = Kvinnoforskning (= Feminist Research)
- Tulva (www.tulva.fi)
In terms of government actions on gender equality, the source materials are rather good and well laid-out. They are available in English, as are the websites with scientific/academic con-tent. NGO’s
There are unfortunately no current, detailed literary sources.
Very useful, but unfortunately the information compiled on the following website is already five years old: Overview of gender equality issues in Finland
Specific mention can be found in the corresponding articles.
Femina Politica – Zeitschrift für feministische Politikwissenschaft, 2/2008: Frauke Rubart, “Finnland: EU-Staat mit Präsidentin und weiblicher Regierungsmehrheit” [Finland: EU state with female president and female governmental majority]
- Frauenfeindliche Sprüche kosten Audi-Manager den Job
[Anti-feminine remarks costs Audi managers their job]
- Finland – a paradise for women?
- Gender equality
These topic-based pages provide an overview of gender equality in a variety of areas of Fin-nish society. The pages present current topics relating to gender equality and contain links to gender-related statistics.
The paperback “Finland’s Women and Men in Finland 2009” was published in English by Statistics Finland. It contains statistics on the status of women and men and on gender equal-ity. The statistics included in the publication are mainly based on data from Statistics Finland; yet data was also used from other sources. The aim of the publication is to trace a holistic image of women and men in various areas of Finnish society.
The publication is available from Statistics Finland Sales Services
Telephone (Sales): +358 9 1734 2011
Fax: +358 9 1734 2500
Postal address: Sales, P.O.Box 4V, FI-00022 Statistics Finland