Finland has risen the bar for establishing gender equality and smashing gender stereotype to a whole new level by electing the country’s and the world’s youngest female Prime Minister in December 2019.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin is a Finnish politician, a social democrat who has been a member of Parliament of Finland since 2015 and had served as Minister of Transport and Communications from June to December 2019. Following the retirement of her predecessor Antti Rinne, Marin at the age of 34, was elected by her party Social Democrats as Prime Minister candidate and upon her confirmation, she is now leading Finland as the world’s current second youngest serving leader.
Marin, born on 16 November, 1985 in Helsinki, comes from rainbow family- raised by two mothers. Her parents split up when she was young and her mother co-raised her with a woman.
Although not having strong financial background, Marin was the first in her family to get a university degree.
She graduated from the University of Tampere with a Master of Administrative Sciences in 2017. In a short span of time, her career had a swift rise. She joined the Social Democratic Youth in 2006 and served as its first Vice President from 2010 to 2012. Her career took a leap when she was elected to the City Council of Tampere at the age of 27 and was elected as the chairperson of the Council from 2013-2017, later being re-elected in 2017. She also served as a member of the Assembly of the Council of Tampere Region and Pirkanmaa Regional Council from 2013-2016. As she continued to rise, she was elected as the second deputy chairperson of the Social Democratic Party in 2014 and in 2015, she was elected to the Finnish Parliament as an MP from the electoral district of Pirkanmaa.
On June 2019, she became the Minister of Transport and Communications. Her briefly shared ideas for having shorter working hours- six hours per day and four days a week- in Finland during her term as the Minister recently got the wave of attention and Finnish government had to dispel the myth mentioning ‘there hasn’t been any recent activity on the topic’ through their Twitter handle.
The mother of 22-month-old daughter, Marin dismissed the questions about her suitability for the job on the basis of her gender and age. “I have never thought about my age or gender. I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate,She shared with reporters after being chosen as Prime Minister.
Marin took over the position of Finland during the wave of the three day strike called on by employee unions. The three day strike was widespread after the postal strikes. More than 9000 employees at the publicly owned postal service Posti, went for the two-week strike against pay cuts. Following the strike, other Finnish industries called on at least 85000 workers to join the strike to raise wage disputes. The strikes led to a combined loss of around 500 million euros revenue to Finland, as the productions were halt for three days. The strikes also affected airways and roadways transportation as well as mail delivery systems.
Although, the disputes and growing nationalist ideologies, make things a little more challenging the new government, with fresh and young faces looks promising towards bringing much needed changes. The new government is set to have 12 female and 7 male ministers. Her new finance minister is even younger, Katri Kulmini, 32, who is one of four other female party leaders.
Marin became the chosen successor of Social Democrat Leader Antii Rinne, who resigned after the growing criticism for his ways of handling the postal strike. Rinne, the country’s first leftist prime minister shared about government plans to reduce income difference through increased investment in education, pensions and social services. However, the growing political crisis over wages cutback of 700 postal workers led to strike which affected the Finnish citizens’ confidence in him, leading to his resignation.
Nordic countries are way ahead in gender equal representation in government since decades. In Sweden, women represent half of the party leaders. Four of the nine parties in Denmark are led by women, with Mette Frederiksen as its Prime Minister. Erna Solberg has been Norway’s head of government since 2013.