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News, 3/8/2017

Finland first country in the world to launch gender equality award

A common denominator for prosperous and socially and economically stable countries is the fact that women participate equally and fully in all levels of society. Including women in decision-making and politics would solve many of the world's problems. To mark its 100th year of independence Finland has launched a gender equality award on International Women's Day 8.3.2017.

The aim of the International Gender Equality Prize (which is apolitical) is to advance and support equal opportunities for women and girls around the world and will be given bi-annually to an individual who has worked to promote gender equality. The instigation of this prize is in remembrance of the fact that Finland was the first country in the world to give women full political rights 1906.

The prize is granted by the Prime Minister's Office and the winner of the prize is chosen by an independent prize committee based on suggestions anyone is free to make starting from 19.3.2017 at The prize money, this year the sum is 150 000 euros, will be donated to an action or cause working for equality that will be chosen by the winner.

Gender equality is a core value of Finland and a source of pride, it is also the reason behind Finland's successful ascension from one of the poorest countries in Europe to a prosperous country with a place at the top of many social and economic rankings. In country rankings Finland has been ranked as 2nd in the following categories: Most gender equal country in the world (The Global Gender Gap, 2016); Best country in the world to be a girl (Save the Children, Girl’s Opportunity Index, 2016);  Mothers wellbeing (Save the Children, 2016).

The Gender Equality Prize is Finland's latest step in over 100 years of work on equality between the sexes. In 1878 women and men were given equal hereditary rights and in 1906 women were given the right to both vote and stand as candidates. The year 1926 saw the election of the first female minister Miina Sillanpää and eleven years later in 1937 an Act providing maternity grants was adopted. The improvements to support women's participation in the labour market were statutory school meals already in 1943 (also important for social equality and health of the children) and the 1973 Day-care Act. The Children’s Home Care Support Act took effect in 1985 confirming the terms maternity, paternity and parental leave. In 1972 The Council for Gender Equality (TANE) was founded and in 1987 The Act on Equality between Women and Men was adopted (Equality Act). The year 2000 saw the election of the first female President of Finland - Tarja Halonen.

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Updated 3/20/2017

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