Finland wants to lead way in gender-equal climate policy

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 11.10.2019 10.54
News item

On the International Day of the Girl, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari and upper secondary school student Priya Härkönen highlight the importance of girls and women in climate policy.

Image: Petri Krook

Priya Härkönen, 16, is working alongside Minister Ville Skinnari today as part of a campaign by Plan International where girls around the world take over leading positions in society. The theme of this year’s takeover is climate change.

“On my day, I would like to highlight the negative impacts of climate change on girls’ rights and explain why it’s important to act now to prevent climate change,” says Härkönen, a first-year upper secondary school student.

Vulnerable groups, such as girls living in the world’s poorest countries, are particularly affected by the effects of climate change. When crops fail, the impacts often first appear on girls’ plates or in their livelihoods. As a result of drought and other extreme weather events, girls spend more time on domestic work and less in school. Natural disasters and unstable conditions also increase the risk of sexual violence and abuse, for example, as well as child marriages.

Minister Skinnari stresses the importance of equality as part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which also guides Finland’s development policy:

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the 2030 Agenda. Strengthening gender equality, on the other hand, promotes other sustainable development goals. The goals must be promoted simultaneously, while also ensuring that the most vulnerable groups can make their voices heard,” Skinnari says.

Girls part of solution to climate crisis

Improving the position of women and girls is a key theme in Finland’s development cooperation. On the International Day of the Girl, Minister Skinnari and Härkönen will jointly highlight the role of equality in climate action and the importance of consulting women and girls in different areas of climate policy.

“Finland is a pioneer with its ambitious climate policy. It’s important for us to promote equality also in policy-making related to climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as in climate finance,” Minister Skinnari says.

At the local level, it is often women who play a key role and possess the necessary knowledge and know-how, for example in forest management and agriculture and in managing other local natural resources. Yet women rarely lead delegations in international negotiations.

“Girls are part of the solution to the climate crisis, so their education is also important. Educated girls can offer their skills and knowledge to support decision-making, which can help their communities and societies to adapt to climate change,” Härkönen says.

During her takeover, Härkönen will attend meetings and events related to the minister’s working day, both in Parliament and at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. She will also meet Finland’s Ambassador for Gender Equality Katri Viinikka and Senior Adviser for Gender Equality Eeva-Maria Mikkonen-Jeanneret, among others.