Women in Finland

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Women in Finland
An 1885 statue of the Finnish maiden leaning on a tablet with the lyrics of the National Anthem of Finland, Walter Runeberg, sculptor.
Gender Inequality Index
Value 0.075 (2012)
Rank 6th
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 5 (2010)
Women in parliament 42.5% (2012)
Females over 25 with secondary education 100.0% (2010)
Women in labour force 55.9% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index[1]
Value 0.8421 (2013)
Rank 2nd out of 136

Women in Finland are women who live in and are from Finland. Finnish women enjoy a "high degree of equality" and "traditional courtesy" among men.[2] In 1906, the women of Finland became the first women in Europe to be granted the right to vote.[3] There are many women in Finland who hold prominent positions in Finnish society, in the academics, in the field of business,[3] and in the government of Finland. An example of powerful women in Finnish politics is Tarja Halonen, who became the first female president of the country (she was Foreign Minister of Finland before becoming president). In religion, where most of the Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (the other major Christian denomination in Finland is the Orthodox Church), women can be ordained as priests. In terms of finance, Finnish women have been described as "usually independent financially". Married women, by custom, introduces themselves by mentioning their forename first, then their maiden name, and then the surname of the their husbands.[2] Finnish women have been describe by The Telegraph as:

Finnish women are much more outgoing and approachable than the men and often command three or four languages. Their position in society and business is well-respected and superior to that of women in most other cultures.[4]


In using the sauna, women bathe separately from men, except if they are with family members.[2]

Women's suffrage[edit]

13 of the total of 19 female MPs, who were the first female MPs in the world, elected in Finland's parliamentary elections in 1907.

The area that in 1809 became Finland was a group of integral provinces of the Kingdom of Sweden for over 600 years, signifying that also women in Finland were allowed to vote during the Swedish Age of Liberty (1718–1771), when suffrage was granted to tax-paying female members of guilds[5]

The predecessor state of modern Finland, the Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917 and enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. In 1863 taxpaying women were granted municipal suffrage in the country side, and in 1872, the same reform was given to the cities[6]

The Parliament Act in 1906 established the unicameral parliament of Finland and both women and men were given the right to vote and stand for election. Thus Finnish women became the first in the world to have unrestricted rights both to vote and to stand for parliament. In elections the next year, 19 female MPs, first ones in the world, were elected and women have continued to play a central role in the nation's politics ever since. Miina Sillanpää, a key figure in the worker's movement, became the first female minister in 1926.[citation needed]

Finland's first female President Tarja Halonen was voted into office in 2000 and for a second term in 2006. Since the 2011 parliamentary election, women's representation stands at 42,5%. In 2003 Anneli Jäätteenmäki became the first female Prime Minister of Finland, and in 2007 Matti Vanhanen's second cabinet made history as for the first time there were more women than men in the cabinet of Finland (12 vs. 8).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013". World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  2. ^ a b c Alho, Olli. A guide to Finnish customs and manners, November 2002/March 2010
  3. ^ a b Women in Business in Finland, worldbusinessculture.com
  4. ^ National Cultural Profiles – Finland, The Telegraph, 19 December 2006.
  5. ^ Åsa Karlsson-Sjögren: Männen, kvinnorna och rösträtten : medborgarskap och representation 1723–1866 ("Men, women and the vote: citizenship and representation 1723–1866") (in Swedish)
  6. ^ P. Orman Ray: Woman Suffrage in Foreign Countries. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 12, No. 3 (Aug., 1918), pp. 469-474

External links[edit]