Strong support from Finland for UN Population Fund and UN Women
Finland will step up its support for the work of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have far-reaching effects on the position of women around the world.
Poor and fragile countries, communities and population groups will suffer from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis the most. The situation is difficult for women who do much both paid and unpaid care work and whose economic and social safety nets are weak.
“Women are globally responsible for 70 per cent of care, service and cleaning work and, despite the crisis, continue to work in different parts of the world often either in low-paid sectors or without any remuneration for their work. In managing the crisis, special attention must be paid to women’s health and the socio-economic impacts of the situation,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
“Another big concern is that strained healthcare systems are not able to provide women and girls with the sexual and reproductive health services for which there is a growing demand.”
Quarantines and curfews that have been put in place because of the pandemic make it difficult to prevent violence against women. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appealed to governments all over the world, asking them to protect women and girls as a part of actions to combat coronavirus, because the past few weeks have seen a dramatic increase in domestic violence.
Flexible forms of support in a crisis situation
UNFPA and UN Women are among Finland's most important cooperation partners in the United Nations. In 2020, Finland supports UNFPA and UN Women by EUR 33 million and EUR 19 million respectively. Core funding is flexible support that organisations can direct to where it is most urgently needed.
UNFPA promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights by improving the availability of contraception and family planning services, for example, and by reducing maternal mortality. Additionally, the organisation works to eradicate gender-based violence and such harmful practices as genital mutilation and child marriage. During the coronavirus outbreak, UNFPA has also provided healthcare workers with essential and critical medical assistance, including hygiene products and sanitation supplies, personal protective equipment and supplies needed during childbirth.
UN Women seeks to end gender inequality and eliminate discrimination as well as to strengthen the position, opportunities and rights of women and girls. The organisation directs and coordinates the United Nations’ gender equality work. During the pandemic, UN Women works persistently to prevent violence against women, ensuring that the gender perspective is taken into account also when decisions concerning the crisis are made. The organisation reaches women who belong to the most vulnerable groups, including domestic workers, refugees and women with a disability, who are working for families without any rights. The organisation has prepared a list of COVID-19 actions for decision-makers.
Strengthening the position and rights of women and girls is one of the key goals of Finland's foreign policy. Finland holds the Presidency of the Bureau of the Executive Board of UN Women in 2020.
Read more: Finland's Minister for Development Cooperation and his six European counterparts emphasised the importance of global, UN-led cooperation in the crisis situation. The opinion was published on The Daily Telegraph.