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.
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. Therefore on 3 June 2019 Finland started the hän campaign. More information can be found on the official website of the campaign.
“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.”