What is Gender Equality?

Gender equality means equal rights and opportunities and equality in the end results for different genders. This include making decisions in a manner that is as fair as possible for all genders. 

According to the Constitution of Finland, no one may be placed in an unequal position on the basis of gender without acceptable justification.

The Equality Act i.e., the Act on Equality between Women and Men (609/1986) prohibits discrimination based on gender, gender identity and gender expression in almost all areas of life.

EU legislation and numerous international conventions, such as the UN’s The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) include provisions related to gender equality.

Who is responsible for the promotion of equality in Finland?

The Equality Act obligates various actors to promote gender equality in a purposeful and planned way. The authorities’ statutory obligation to promote equality applies to all authorities in all sectors. The Equality Act also contains obligations for employers, education providers, and educational institutions.

The Government's gender equality policy is coordinated by the Gender Equality Unit at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The Council for Gender Equality, which takes into account the Parliament’s power relations has a permanent advisory role in central government. Compliance with the Equality Act is supervised by the Ombudsman for Equality who operates under the Ministry of Justice.

In addition to the measures enshrined in the Act and gender equality policy programmes, gender equality is widely promoted in society, for example in order to improve decision-making, well-being and safety. Equality work is carried out by authorities, companies, the scientific community and various actors in civil society. Gender equality work with the greatest impact is carried out through cross-sectoral cooperation. The Council for Gender Equality serves as a forum for cooperation between political parties, researchers, and organisations, and  introduces new initiatives also in the social fields where work to promote equality is only just beginning.

Read about the central governmental equality actors: 

How is equality promoted?

The focus of work to promote equality is on identifying and dismantling unequal structures. Promoting equality also involves sharing of good practices that promote equality. Equality can be promoted through targeted actions focusing on a specific perspective, theme or target group. The Council for Gender Equality focuses on different perspectives in its subcommittees, working groups, and projects. 

In addition to separate, specific measures, it is important to include the promotion of equality as an objective in all activities. This is referred to as the mainstreaming of the gender perspective.

Mainstreaming requires taking the gender perspective into account, for example, in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of matters.