Government adopts statement to Parliament on promoting equality, gender equality and non-discrimination
On 31 August, the Government adopted a statement to Parliament on measures to promote equality, gender equality and non-discrimination in Finnish society.
“The Government is committed to promoting equality on a broad front throughout the parliamentary term. There is no room for racism in Finland. Political decision-makers must set an example in building a safe and equal society, and we need all of society to take part,” said Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in connection with the publication of the statement.
The statement is based on the Government Programme and the work of previous governments. The working group that prepared the statement included about 100 actors in society. The measures described in the statement will be put into concrete practice through a separate action plan.
According to the statement, “Finland has historically been a leader in social equality, the rule of law and improving opportunities for individuals to lead a life of dignity. (--) Under the Constitution of Finland, everyone is equal before the law.”
Based on a consultation round, Finnish legislation is at a good level overall. However, there are still discriminatory attitudes and structures in Finnish society—for example, on the labour market and in education—that must be changed.
According to the statement, “shortcomings in the realisation of equality are more due to inadequate implementation and enforcement of legislation. This being the case, the Government will focus more on measures that can promote equality and gender equality in practice. There are, naturally, still some specific issues that need to be addressed in legislation.”
Many measures to promote equality and combat racism
The statement lists many measures to promote equality and combat racism. Many of them are based on the Government Programme, but the statement also includes new measures. The Government will allocate sufficient resources to these measures in its budget session within the spending limits.
The Prime Minister will lead an annual round-table discussion on promoting equality and non-discrimination. The Prime Minister's Office will bring together anti-discrimination expertise under the Prime Minister and will launch an anti-racism campaign in cooperation with labour market, sports, cultural and non-governmental organisations.
The work of the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations and dialogue with non-governmental organisations will be strengthened. Preventative police work and the multi-professional early intervention model (Anchor model) will be developed.
The Government will launch an equality and non-discrimination programme covering the entire education system. The Government will raise the participation rate of children with an immigrant background in early childhood education and care. In addition, the level of appropriations for equality funding to be used in early childhood education and care and basic education will be put on a permanent footing.
The statement emphasises that the Government Programme’s policy is for people to integrate into Finnish society through work. Non-discrimination at work will be promoted in cooperation with labour market organisations: for example, services that combat recruiting discrimination will be incorporated into business services. The transition of female immigrants into the labour market will be promoted. The ability of organisations to support the workplace wellbeing of employees facing discrimination and racism will be improved, for example, by making use of training for professionals.
With respect to legislation, the punishments for exploitation of employees will be made more severe and supervision will be made more effective. Acts motivated by hate against Jews, Muslims, Christians and other religious groups will be prevented and Holocaust denial will be criminalised. The possibility of criminalising the use of at least Nazi and communist symbols to promote ideology will be investigated.
The Government will also intensify its efforts to promote equality, gender equality and non-discrimination. In international and EU contexts, Finland will continue its long-term human rights policy of promoting and defending the rights of, e.g. women, girls, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, gender and sexual minorities, and other people in particularly vulnerable positions.
The Government has submitted the statement to Parliament, which will debate it in the autumn session beginning next week.
Inquiries: Risto Artjoki, State Secretary, Chair of the working group, tel. +358 9 1602 2006, and Jouni Varanka, Head of Policy Planning Unit, tel. +358 295 160 177, Prime Minister's Office