Minister Saarikko: Combatting violence against women and girls is one of the most important gender equality issues

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 6.3.2018 15.55
News item

“We have gathered here in Tampere to celebrate the International Gender Equality Prize, but also to talk about perhaps one of the most important issues concerning women’s rights and gender equality: combatting violence against women and girls”, minister Annika Saarikko said in her speech at the International Gender Equality Prize ceremony and reception at Tampere Hall on February 6th.

“Combatting violence against women is also at the centre of the gender equality policies in Finland. Combatting violence against women is one of the most important issues for me personally, as a minister responsible for gender equality, I have raised the issue during many occasions”, minister Saarikko continued.
Minister Saarikko reminded that there have been many improvements since Finland ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2015: this government will increase the funding of shelters from 11.55 million to 19.55 million. In addition, a hotline for victims of domestic violence was established as well as a support center for victims of sexual violence.

Still there is a lot to do. The #Metoo campaign has revealed a massive human rights problem. Women and girls all around the world are harassed and abused every day.

“Men with power have misused their positions and people around them have been silent about it. The #Metoo movement has already changed that - and for good, I hope”, minister Saarikko said and called out for more cooperation.

“We need to be able to tackle issues like female genital mutilation and forced marriages and this cannot be done without an active and resourced cooperation between states, organisations such as United Nations and the grass root level. Civil society is fundamental in delivering to women’s rights and anti-violence work”, minister Saarikko underlined.

“Today we are celebrating especially the work of SOS Femmes et Enfants Victimes de Violence Familiale. These organisations reach out for the women and girls in horrendous situations, but also teach and encourage new generations of all genders towards a violence-free life.”

Minister Saarikko said she was happy to see a strong representation from UN in Tampere.

“The UN has always been a strong advocate for raising women and girls’ rights issues on the global agenda. One of them is the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations and peace-building. The UN adopted resolution 1325 in the year 2000 and unfortunately, we need it now more than ever,” Saarikko said.

This year Finland is commemorating the Finnish Civil War a hundred years ago. Women and girls have always been targets of sexual violence in conflict situations - unfortunately, Finland during the war was not an exception.

“Now - after one hundred years - it is our responsibility to act against violence. Women’s rights are human rights. Every woman and girl on this globe have the right to live free from violence and the fear of violence.”

Minister Saarikko said she was hoping to hear some concrete proposals at the event in Tampere on-how to increase global cooperation in order to diminish violence against women and girls around the world.

“I am going to the CSW meeting in New York next week. It is a two-week meeting about women’s and girls’ rights. It’s the second biggest meeting at the UN after the General Assembly. Almost 10000 politicians, civil servants and NGO people meet annually at this meeting. I promise to bring the messages of this important event today to people at the United Nations”, minister Saarikko concluded.


Riikka Pirkkalainen, Special Adviser to Minister Saarikko, tel. +358 4053 95090

Tanja Auvinen, Director, tel.  +358 2951 63715

Annika Saarikko