Finland’s International Gender Equality Prize 2023 awarded for humanitarian work among Afghan women

The International Gender Equality Prize was awarded to the Afghan Women Skills Development Center, which works to promote and protect the rights of women in Afghanistan. The organisation does important humanitarian work to promote the safety of Afghan women.

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo presented the EUR 300,000 Prize to the organisation’s representative Mahbouba Seraj in Tampere on 11 December 2023. 

Award-winning human rights defender Mahbouba Seraj does not bend in the face of violence

International Gender Equality Prize recipient, Afghan Women's Skills Development Center's leader Mahbouba Seraj runs Afghanistan's only remaining women's shelter. The need for protection only grows by day.

The International Gender Equality Prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Tampere on 11 December

The International Gender Equality Prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Tampere on 11 December. The €300 000 prize will be awarded by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

Representatives from countries such as Ukraine, Afghanistan and Rwanda will discuss gender equality in conflict. Janine di Giovanni, author and war correspondent, will give the keynote speech. 

The event is by invitation only. You can follow the event remotely at Yle Areena 1 pm (UTC+2). 

The Prize partner CMI ‒ Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation is organising an after event in G Livelab, Tampere to discuss the role of women in peace building in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. 

Gender equality should be at the core of peacemaking

Peace goes hand in hand with equality: societies with higher gender equality tend to be more peaceful, while peaceful societies are better at making gains in gender equality.

Gender equality also matters for how peace is made. Men and women have equal rights to shape decisions that concern the future of their societies. The conditions for sustainable peace and post-war recovery are built simultaneously at political, community and personal levels.  Therefore, both men and women should be able to take part in every step of the peace process, from pre-negotiation consultations to concrete actions taken after the shaking of hands.

Ujuni Ahmed urges people to talk about their problems – political silence only increases the inequalities that minorities face

Ujuni Ahmed is a sought-after expert, Chairperson of the Crisis Response Association, a new mother and an acclaimed author whose work “Tytöille, jotka ajattelevat olevansa yksin” (“For Girls Who Think They Are Alone”) premiered at the Finnish National Theatre in the autumn of 2023. She came to Finland from Somalia with her family in the early 1990s, when the need for the integration of immigrants had not yet been recognized. According to Ahmed, this has led to many of the problems that we face today.

Tarja Halonen: Girls in conflict-affected countries need our special attention

President Halonen is an unwavering defender of the welfare society – and for many reasons. The measures employed by the Nordic countries to promote gender equality could also have helped countries in crisis situations.

“Empowerment of women and girls also protects them in times of crises. But any shortcomings should be addressed before it’s too late. Very few countries can launch action to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people while in a crisis.” 

Thank you to everyone who nominated a candidate for the 2023 prize ‒ nearly 500 nominations were submitted

The prize is awarded to a person or organisation that has advanced gender equality in a globally significant way. Next, an independent international jury will review the submissions. Finally, the recipient of the prize will be revealed at a gala event in Tampere, Finland in December 2023.