Your Excellencies, dear friends,
I would like to warmly welcome you all to Finland and to the city of Tampere.
Many among you have fought for the rights of women and girls around the word, sometimes risking your own security for the cause and even at the risk of your own lives. It is my honor
to be with you.
I wish to note in particular the presence of the Nobel Peace Laureate Ms. Nadia Murad in the audience. Thank you so much for being with us here today.
The International Gender Equality Prize is an important and unique prize. There is no other award like it in the world. Yet we all know how essential it is to fight for the rights of women and girls today.
Finland was the first country in the world to grant women full political rights. This happened in 1906, before we gained our independence in 1917. Our first woman minister was Miina Sillanpää, who served in Government in 1926.
I am the third woman to serve as Prime Minister of Finland and all five political parties in government are led by women. I grew up at a time when a woman, Tarja Halonen, was serving as President of the Republic.
Gender equality is an issue that concerns all of society. Equality builds trust, and trust is crucial in order for a society to succeed.
Our efforts can inspire others in the world. I hope that the International Gender Equality Prize will inspire and give hope to all those fighting for gender equality.
Finland has also gained a great deal from the international community.
Many important reforms for our society have originated in international arenas.
The UN, the European Union and the Council of Europe have had a great influence on gender equality and equality policy in Finland. They have called for us to take many important steps in areas such as eradicating violence against women.
For example, the Beijing Declaration and the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence have played an important role in Finland as well.
Finland is a strong supporter of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. As such, we promote the widest possible acceptance of the Convention globally. When it comes to implementing the Istanbul Convention, civil society actors play a key role.
We must step up our efforts on the international stage. Around the world, conservative forces, the anti-gender movement and neo-nationalism are threatening our progress.
We have to work hard to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights in all countries. Violence against women is a serious problem worldwide.
Far too many women have suffered from domestic violence during the pandemic, even more than before. The pandemic has had an outsized impact on minorities as well.
In addition, violence has taken on new forms with advances in technology. Online gender-based violence is an acute and new kind of threat.
Women, people of colour, LGBTIQ+ people and people with disabilities are especially targeted online. Online gender-based violence has similar serious consequences to other forms of violence.
Women and girls are still disproportionately affected by crises. Women’s rights advocates need protection and resources. The rights of women and girls must be at the heart of our efforts to address crises anywhere in the world.
Finland was recently elected to become a full member of the UN Human Rights Council for the next term, running from 2022 until 2024. As a member of the Council, we are committed to advancing the rights of women and girls.
Finland awards the International Gender Equality Prize in order to promote concrete actions worldwide and protect those whose important work puts them in danger.
Gender equality is more than just a value – it requires concrete actions. Gender equality must be discussed everywhere and demanded without fear.
The prize being awarded here today is also about sending an important message to the world.
In its decision on the winner of the International Gender Equality Prize in 2021, the jury had the following to say:
The winner does groundbreaking work to combat violence against women, and their actions have had a concrete impact. They have intervened in femicide cases with their lawyers and representatives and have supported the families of murdered women. Thanks to their work, penalty reductions have become more difficult, and deterrent sentences have been attained. Their work also has a global impact. This prize puts the topic of violence against women in the spotlight. Moreover, it encourages others to act.
The winner of the International Gender Equality Prize in 2021 is an association called the We Will Stop Femicide Platform.
They are working to stop femicide and all kinds of violence against women, to ensure gender equality and to prevent child abuse. In addition, they are fighting against inequalities that need to change so that the liberation of women and LGBTIQ+ people can become a reality.
The work of the We Will Stop Femicide Platform includes decision meetings, educational activities, informative seminars, mass protests, and a variety of correspondence meetings. The association seeks to work with provincial and district assemblies to ensure gender equality nationwide in Turkey.
I also wish to add, that the Platform raises awareness about the rights of women and girls on the ground, in everyday life. It gives hope to every woman and girl to know that thanks to actors such as the Platform, our efforts are not just empty words. The international community does care. This is the very essence of our Prize.
The We will Stop Femicide Platform represents the spirit of the Istanbul Convention very well, just as we must step up our efforts to support the implementation of the Convention worldwide.
Congratulations to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform! We wish you all the best in your future work.