How Finland Got the World’s Youngest, Female Governing Coalition
My country has long been a pioneer in gender equality, but now the glass ceiling seems to have been broken for young women.
Yesterday, 34-year-old Sanna Marin from the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) became the world’s youngest prime minister after Antti Rinne, the leader of the party, was forced to resign. Not only that, but Marin is the leader of a coalition government formed by five parties all led by women, four of them under the age of 35.
How was this possible?
Well, for starters, Finland was the first country in the world to give women full political rights, in 1906–although technically, it was not yet an independent country but an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire. As a result, Finland got its first female MPs in 1907, ten years before the Russian Revolution that gave us our independence.
Finland has previously had female prime ministers and a female president, Tarja Halonen, from 2000 to 2012, also from the SDP. Finnish women have been taking over universities, as well, for as long as I can remember. Women now represent 57,4% of all students, though some fields are still male-dominated. The country has also championed women’s rights in its foreign policy, pushing a progressive agenda for the inclusion of women in developing countries. In theory, Finnish women now have the same possibilities in life as men, but equality is of course not at 100%. Women still make 84 cents on the euro a man earns, and in 2017, women accounted for a whopping 7,2% of CEO positions.
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Is it about gender?
The new prime minister herself has said that she doesn’t find her age or gender to be a relevant issue. Rather, Marin said in an interview, she focuses on being true to the motives that pushed her to get involved in politics and that won the SDP the trust of the electorate. She wants to work on building a fair and egalitarian future…