angle-left Finland wants to encourage equality and give the world a word – their all -inclusive personal pronoun, hän

Finland wants to encourage equality and give the world a word – their all -inclusive personal pronoun, hän

Like many languages, Finnish is full of loanwords – words that were, at some point, borrowed from other languages and incorporated into Finnish. Finland would now like to give the rest of the world a word, to encourage international discussion about equality and inclusivity, and to support everyone who is working to promote them. The word is: hän.

Finland will also be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the globe who are committed to advancing inclusivity in society. The names of the first recipients from 16 countries have been released, with one of the honours going to The WOW Foundation for their continuous work promoting equality and empowering people of all kinds around the world through WOW - Women of the World Festivals.

Equality forms a core value for Finland and its people, and the best symbol of Finnish equality is a personal pronoun from the Finnish language: hän. The third-person singular pronoun hän is neutral in terms of gender and social status, so it represents equal opportunity. It is “she” and “he,” all at once, and it has always existed in the Finnish language. To promote inclusivity and equality, Finland wants to introduce this word – and the thinking behind it – to the rest of the world.

Finland launched a campaign about equality, on June 3, in English, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. Finland is thanking these languages for their loanwords and spreading the word about equality. Outdoor advertising is going up in London, Brussels and Berlin, supplementing the campaign website and video material. Finnish people can participate and thank their friends using an app available on the campaign site.

Finland expresses its gratitude for contributions to equality with special recognition – Women of the World festival from the UK among the first recipients

In tandem with the equality campaign, Finland will be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the world. The goal is to show gratitude for their valuable work for promoting equality and inclusivity in various sectors of society. The names of the first recipients from 16 countries have been released, with one of the honours going to The WOW Foundation for their continuous work promoting equality and empowering people of all kinds around the world through WOW - Women of the World Festivals.

WOW is a global movement launched in 2010 by Jude Kelly CBE celebrating women and girls and looking at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. WOW Festivals bring communities together, changes attitudes and provides a unique platform for people to work together. To date, WOW has reached over 2 million people in 17 countries on 5 continents with more than 60 festivals including in Finland. Next year will mark WOW's 10th anniversary.

Among other recipients of the recognition are individuals and groups from Singapore, Croatia, Namibia, Norway, Indonesia and Japan. They represent a range of fields, including education, minority rights and gender equality. The full list of the first recipients and more info about why they were selected are available at: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours.

“Equality is one of the great strengths of Finnish society and Finnish culture,” says Laura Kamras of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. “It is so important to us that we would like to bring everyone into the conversation.”

“Finland is not a perfect society, of course, and maintaining and improving equality requires continuous work. Nor is a language ever perfect; despite its use of a gender-neutral pronoun, the Finnish language still contains words and expressions that carry gendered meanings. Our campaign seeks to emphasise the significance of equality and its power to shape society. Promoting equality is a high priority in Finland’s foreign policy.”

“By running a campaign that includes giving recognition to individuals and groups, we aim to highlight work being done around the world to promote equality. We invite everyone to participate in the discussion.”

 

More information

Campaign website: www.finland.fi/hän 
Campaign video: https://toolbox.finland.fi/?tag[]=equality&find=h%C3%A4n&type[]=videos
Print-quality campaign posters: https://toolbox.finland.fi/?tag[]=equality&find=h%C3%A4n&type[]=printables
List of first Hän Honours recipients: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours

For further information on The WOW Foundation please contact Maisie Lawrence at The Corner Shop PR on [email protected] or +44 20 7831 7657.
thewowfoundation.com / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Media contact and interview requests

Johanna Sumuvuori 
Press Counsellor, Embassy of Finland, London
Tel: +44 20 7838 6207 
Email: [email protected]

Laura Kamras 
Director, Unit for Public Diplomacy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Tel: +358 295 351 558 
Email: [email protected]