Pääministeri Petteri Orpon puhe kansainvälisen IGEP-tasa-arvopalkinnon julkistamisjuhlassa 11.12.2023
Pääministeri Petteri Orpo puhui kansainvälisen IGEP-tasa-arvopalkinnon julkistamisjuhlassa maanantaina 11.12. Puhe muutosvarauksin. Vain englanniksi.
I would like to warmly welcome you all to Finland. The International Gender Equality Prize is an important prize, and even more so during challenging times like these. We all know how essential it is to fight for the rights of women and girls today. The story of this prize began when Finland celebrated 100 years of independence in 2017. Gender equality has played an important role in Finland’s journey to become the country it is today, and we wanted to give these efforts their rightful recognition. The prize recognises that gender equality requires concrete efforts, not just at home but also abroad. It is especially important to protect the rights of those women who are at a higher risk of discrimination and suffer the most from the current crises. And there can be no gender equality without women’s political and economic participation.
Finland has a long history of promoting gender equality, dating back to 1906, when we became the first country in the world to grant women full political rights. Since then, we have made significant progress in advancing women’s rights and opportunities in various areas of our society. Beyond our borders, Finland is committed to promoting the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, in its foreign and development policy. We have traditionally been a strong advocate for gender equality on the international stage, supporting and actively participating in the work of the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and other multilateral and bilateral partners.
I hope our efforts and success can inspire others around the world. However, we did not invent all the reforms and rights that make our society more equal on our own. Many important reforms originated in international arenas. The UN, European Union and Council of Europe have had a great influence on our gender equality and equality policies. They have called for us to take many important steps, for example in eradicating violence against women.
We are well aware that we still have a lot of work to do, both in Finland and globally. Despite the achievements and commitments made over the past decades, gender equality remains an unfinished agenda. Women and girls still face multiple and interconnected forms of discrimination, violence, and exclusion in every region of the world. There is more and more coordinated opposition to the gender equality agenda on the international stage. We must step up our international efforts and work hard to ensure that the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, are respected in all countries.
Here in Finland, my Government submitted a statement to Parliament in September on promoting equality, gender equality and non-discrimination in Finnish society. The statement includes multiple actions to promote equality in all areas of society, from education to working life – and especially to improve the employment rate of women with immigrant backgrounds.
Gender equality is more than a value – it requires concrete efforts. Gender equality concerns all of society and helps to build the trust needed for a society to succeed. There can be no freedom or safety without gender equality. I now have the pleasure to invite to the stage the chair of this year’s jury and the president of the National Council of Women of Finland, Saara-Sofia Sirén, to share with us the jury’s reasoning behind this year’s excellent winner.
Thank you Saara-Sofia and the jury for your great work. This year’s winner comes from Afghanistan, a country where women and girls are facing gender persecution at the hands of the Taliban. Finland strongly supported gender equality and women’s rights in Afghanistan for 20 years, and for a long time, the country was the biggest recipient of Finnish development aid. Finland continues to provide this important support to the extent possible. I sincerely hope this prize shows that Finland has not forgotten the women of Afghanistan. It is my great pleasure to announce that the winner of the International Gender Equality Prize in 2023 is an organisation called the Afghan Women Skills Development Center. Congratulations!