Gender equality: how Minna Canth changed Finland’s route

Helsinki, Finland, March 19th. On this day, you may notice the Finnish flag flying all over the city. And you know what? It is not a custom to fly the national flag in all public buildings. This takes place only on special occasions (they call them flag days). So, what is it special about this day?
It is the birthday of Minna Canth, Finland’s first feminist and one of its most important writers. Her whole work is about women’s rights and gender equality. She was the first woman to receive her own flag day. But it is also the day to celebrate social equality in Finland. And Finland has a lot to pride in when it comes to that. How did this small country manage to become the world’s best place to be a woman or girl?

Break the rules!

Minna Canth’s work explored women’s life back in the late 19th century. She wrote about them in a realistic way, fighting against the patriarchal norms that dominated life back then.

A young woman who cannot divorce her husband to marry the man she loves. A submissive wife whose finances are controlled by her alcoholic husband. A young single woman who got pregnant and is forced to abort. These are all stories from her writings. Truly realistic yet inspiring for the women of that time.

It was not until some years after her death that Finnish women earned full political rights. That happened in 1906 and Finland was the 1st country in the world to do so. Well done!

On top of the world!

Today, Finland is one of the most equal societies in the world when it comes to men’s and women’s’ rights. And this is proven by facts not just written down policies. It is also reflected in all facets of social and political life.

Women have occupied all of the highest political positions in Finland: President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, not to mention Ministers of all the crucial areas like Finance, Defence and Foreign Affairs.

Finland also ranks 3rd in the world when it comes to gender equality. The top two places are occupied by fellow Nordics (Iceland 1st, Norway 2nd). And it is also the 5th best place to be a woman or a girl in the world thanks to its equal and welcoming environment for women. Again the top three spots are occupied by other Nordic countries.  But why does Finland rank so high?

Due to some of its social innovations, like the free Maternity and Child Health Clinic, the Baby Box or the Free School Meals. All introduced back in the 40s and helped Finland transform from a poor rural economy to one of the most advanced societies in the world.