Finland has long been considered one of the world’s leading countries in promoting gender equality and in being a gender equality pioneer, as this was the first country in the world to grant women full political equal rights, in 1906. In the following year, 19 female members were elected to the parliament -the first in the world- with the first female minister, Miina Sillanpää, being elected in 1926.
But even before Finland became an independent country, when it was a group of integral provinces of the Kingdom of Sweden, tax-paying female members of guilds were granted voting rights during the Swedish Age of Liberty (1718-1772).
Slowly but progressively, and even during the Swedish and Russian rule, women in Finland were able to conquer more rights, step by step, and eventually cementing their place as an equal in all aspects in Finnish society.
Since all these changes and first steps, and even though there are still struggles today, the truth is Finnish women have become a vital and central part of, not only Finnish politics, but also finance, business, academics, in the government of the country and even being able to be ordained as priests as the majority of Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
This level of equality has allowed for both women and men to contribute to Finnish society in an equal matter that has propelled a prosperity and social status, that makes this country one of the safest for all its citizens, in general, and women in particular.
Sixth in the world ranking
In the Women, Peace and Security index in 2017, Finland was ranked the sixth-best country for women, out of 153, total. The index, which was launched at the United Nations, is updated every two years and focuses on three basic (but vital) areas for a woman’s well-being: security, inclusion and justice.
This is a country were it is common to see women working in all kinds of fields, including in construction; driving trucks, taxis, busses or trams; being security guards, police officers or serving in the army; being professional athletes in hockey, ski or snowboard. Just to mention a few examples in professions that are usually seen as a male only jobs, in most countries.
Finland is also one of the best countries at offering women all the academic, working and social opportunities they like, which helps provide a good balance between personal and working life.
Therefore, in a pioneer country for women’s rights, celebrations about the International Women’s Day are to be expected. Here are ten events taking place during the next weekend in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.
- Women to the Top event, at the Music Hall, Rehearsal Hall Paavo, Mannerheimintie 13 A, 00100 Helsinki. This event will gather several female leaders from different business fields for a panel discussion. March 8th, between 14:00 and 20:00.
- International Women's Day Event in Suvilahti, Kaasutehtaankatu, 1, Helsinki. Event with performances in street art, circus and rap with the theme of Women's Day and a panel discussion about women's experiences in their art fields, graffiti painting, street art workshops, and circus comedy. Friday 8th, starting at 14:00.
- Caisa cultural centre, Kaikukatu, 4, 00530, Helsinki. This centre will have a have a play called 'For colored girls who have considered suicide', about the personal stories of 7 women who have been oppressed in a sexist and racist society. Thursday 7th, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th at 19:00.
- B3CF International Women’s Day event by British and Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce in Finland, Bulevardi 14, 5th floor, Helsinki. This event will highlight and illustrate women’s roles in the modern world as pioneers, innovators and mentors, in such areas as Leadership in Entrepreneurship, Arts, Sports, Governance and Finance, with several guest speakers. The South African Ambassador H.E Carmen Smidt will be the guest of honour at this event. Friday 8th from 16:30 to 18:30.
- International Women’s Day celebration at Wonderland Work, Konepajankuja 1, 00510 Helsinki. Flower workshop with the help and instructions of Elina Kurttio. Between 17:00 and 18:00.
- To Feminist Futures - Demonstration on 8th of March, in Helsinki. A march for the rights of cis-women, trans-women, queer and non-binary people and children. Starts at Narinkkatori, at 17:00 until 21:00.
- Social Portrait performance art project, at EMMA, Ahertajantie, 5, Tapiola, Espoo. This event will be performed by artist Katriina Haikala, who will draw the portraits of 1.000 people who identify as women. This project has been showcased around the world with EMMA being the 6th location where it is held. March 8th, between 11:00 and 19:00.
- Naistenpäivä at Regus Otaniemi, Metallimiehenkuja 10, 02150, Espoo. Networking event particularly directed at women, but all are welcomed. Friday, March 8th between 13:00 and 15:00.
- Women’s Day at KAMU, Näyttelykeskus WeeGee, Ahertajantie 5, 02100, Espoo. Celebration of International Women’s Day, with the exhibit called 'The Thousand Stories of Espoo - active women from the Stone Age city'. March 8th, starting at 17:30.
- Celebration of the Annual International Women’s Day, at Vernissasali, Tikkurilantie 36, Vantaa. With this year’s theme being “Lovely Women Rejoice”, there will be dancing, music performances, speeches, DJ and a catwalk. March 8th from 17:30 to 21:30.