Political youth and student organizations of Finland/Statement 24.5.2013: The Government has 952 days to promote gender equality and empower women in practice in its international cooperation

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(Language: Finnish, Swedish, English) Political youth and student organisations demand that the Finnish Government and the foreign policy leadership strengthen their promotion of women’s rights and gender equality in international cooperation. Finnish youth politicians visited Nepal on 4-11 May during a training programme organised by the Political Parties of Finland for Democracy (Demo Finland) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and familiarized themselves with development cooperation, particularly peace and democracy building projects, in the country.

On Friday 24 May 2013, Finland has 952 days left to help ensure that the UN Millennium Development Goals on improving the status of women are met. At the moment, the reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health and reduction of maternal mortality, as well as the promotion of the status of women and gender equality in political participation, are goals that have not yet been met.

Gender equality is a key factor in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals by the deadline in 2015. Several studies show that improving the status of women benefits the whole society - the well-being of families and future generations improves, political decision-making is diversified, and national economies are stimulated. The youth organisations remind that although we have made remarkable improvements, the achievements are unequally distributed across and within regions and countries. Gender inequality still persists and women continue to suffer from discrimination in access to economic assets and political participation as well as to education and work.

We demand that the Finnish foreign policy leadership take clear and rapid action. Even in economically challenging times, improvement of the status of women must be firmly on the agenda in development cooperation, during country visits and when participating in international fora -- improvements must be advanced and made both in terms of attitudes and in influencing social structures. To this day, in Nepal -- whose development Finland has supported since 1983 -- women’s representation in national political institutions is often cursory. Despite their significant contributions to the society, women are rarely represented in the higher echelons of power and policymaking, the youth politicians said after their visit to Nepal.

- In the previous election, an ad hoc law ensured 33 percent representation of women in the Constituent Assembly and as Nepal prepares for another election, the leaders of major political parties appear non-committal on retaining the quota, the youth politicians say.

- We also demand action to combat violence against girls and women. Gender-based violence is the most systematic and widespread manifestation of inequality and the lack of respect for women’s rights, and it is not included in the current Millennium Development Goals. The world cannot achieve equality and ensure equal rights for women without ending violence against women. For example, over 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime, and in many countries violence is used against women candidates in elections. Finland must support concrete actions by focusing development funding on programmes that address gender-based violence.

The youth politicians will discuss their experiences from the training programme and their thoughts on development cooperation at the World Village Festival in Helsinki on Saturday 25 May 2013 at 17:30 – 17:50 on Taiga-stage.

Helsinki, 24 May 2013

Centre Party Student Union, Jirka Hakala

Student Union of National Coalition Party (Tuhatkunta), Jenni Vartiainen

Liberal Students LSK, Elin Blomqvist

Christian Democratic Youth of Finland, Elsi Ranta

The Finns Party Youth, Sebastian Tynkkynen

Social Democratic Youth, Joona Räsänen

Social Democratic Students in Finland, Anette Karlsson

Finnish Centre Youth, Jouni Ovaska

Svensk Ungdom, Robert Byggmästar

Left Youth, Li Andersson

Left Students of Finland, Tiina Parkkinen

Federation of Green Youth and Students, Maria Ohisalo

More information and media inquiries:

Political Parties of Finland for Democracy, Demo Finland, Hanne Hämäläinen, tel. +358503238456

UNDP Nordic Representation Office, Maiju Mitrunen, tel. +358405471743

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Puolueiden kansainvälinen demokratiayhteistyö Demo ry
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+358(0)41 708 1928, info(at)demofinland.orghttp://www.demofinland.org

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