Finland's National Statement at the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68)

Delivered by Minister of Social Security, Ms. Sanni Grahn-Laasonen in New York on March 12th, 2024.

Honorable Chair, Dear Colleagues,

Gender equality is critical for realization of human rights. It is also critical for promoting development and sustainable economies.  If women, who account for half of the world’s working-age population, do not achieve their full economic potential, the economies and societies everywhere will suffer. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are the surest fast-track, to promote a prosperous and safe future.  Women’s rights are about the well-being of women and girls, and at the same time they are about well-being of all – men and boys included.

Women’s economic empowerment does not exist without rights of women. And the rights will fall short, without women’s economic empowerment.

We need to address gender-based poverty in many ways. We have to work harder for women’s economic empowerment, and to get rid of the limitations holding women back. Sexual and reproductive health and rights play an important role. Failure in realizing them can mean more child pregnancies and child marriages. Girls will not be able to finish their school and women cannot fully contribute to their societies and economies. This is about rights, and about development.

Gender equality and women’s rights were in a central role in Finland’s own development path, from a poor and fragile country into an innovative economy and Nordic welfare state.

Caring for children, older persons and the ill falls too often on the shoulders of women, as unpaid work. For any modern and innovative economy, this cannot be the principal system. Social policy innovations such as affordable and quality child day care and parental leaves, equally shared among the parents, are essential in increasing women’s participation in formal labour markets.

Today, Finland has adopted a family leave scheme that gives both parents an equal possibility for a parental leave. We try to encourage men to take a bigger share of parental leaves. Finland's social security system is based on individuals, not on a family provider model. This makes the system more equal.

For my country, strengthening gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting is an important goal. Our gender equality law states that all officials must promote gender equality purposefully and systematically.

The gender pay gap remains a persistent problem. We must continue to promote gender equality in working life, equal pay and work-life balance. Empowering women gives them independent incomes, and access to health insurance and pension for retirement.

Finland is highly concerned about the increasing sexual and gender-based violence. In many parts of the world, wars and conflicts that women and girls did not launch, pose the gravest of threats to them. Peace is needed to protect women and their rights. The Special Representative Pramila Patten's recent report paints a harrowing picture of most cruel violence against women during the 7.10. terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel. The reported information about sexual violence against Palestinian men and women in detention and at house raids and checkpoints, is also deeply concerning.

We also need to tackle online violence, harassment and hate speech. They pose a threat to democracies, by silencing women and weakening women and girls’ participation.

Moreover, we have a lot of work to do with gender norms and discriminatory stereotypes. Stereotypes promote inequality and attitudes that undermine women’s rights.

In the Economy of Wellbeing, progress in gender equality and economic success go hand in hand. Investing in gender and social equality is beneficial for people, but also for productivity, economic sustainability and societal stability.

Most of the Sustainable Development Goals are reliant on gender equality. By advancing gender equality, we can go a long way towards reaching the Goals. This is not a mission impossible. Let’s join forces and push forward. Finland is determined to promote gender equality both nationally, and globally with you all.

Thank you.