UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign promotes the rights of women and girls. The campaign aims to accelerate especially those gender equality objectives that have suffered from slow global development. Finland holds a lead role in the Action Coalition that focuses on technology and innovation.
The campaign is coordinated by UN Women. It brings together states, companies, UN organisations, civil society, foundations and youth representatives. It was launched in 2020, the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. The proposal to start the campaign was made by Mexico and France. To mark the anniversary, high-level forums are being planned to raise awareness of gender equality matters in international discussion. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned events cannot be held until at some point in 2021.
Gender equality is one of Finland's foreign policy priorities. Finland has provided both political and financial support to UN Women and promoted women's rights also as the organisation’s board member for a long time. The Generation Equality campaign offers Finland an opportunity to strengthen its role at the leading edge in the promotion of gender equality.
Themes of the campaign
In the past 25 years, headway has been made in the implementation of the Beijing Action Plan on Women's Rights for example as regards girls’ education, but progress in other areas has not been as smooth. In many sectors in society and the economy, special efforts are required, and such topical phenomena as digitalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to widen the gender gap.
Therefore, six Action Coalitions focusing on different themes have been established in the campaign. In the next five years, they aim to implement sustainable, global systemic changes in their selected theme areas.
The themes of the Generation Equality Action Coalitions are:
- Gender-based violence
- Economic justice and rights
- Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
- Feminist action for climate justice
- Technology and innovation for Gender Equality
- Feminist movements and leadership
Women, peace and security as well as intersectionality, which refers to factors affecting the social position of individuals alongside gender, are cross-cutting themes in the work of each Action Coalition. In their concrete work, the Action Coalitions pay special attention to young women and girls as well as to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Finland's lead role
Finland was appointed to lead the Action Coalition responsible for Technology, Innovation and Gender Equality together with Tunisia, Armenia, Chile and Rwanda. The other members of the Action Coalition are the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Rockefeller Foundation, the <A+> Alliance network, the Global Fund for Women and the Social Builder organisation.
It is easy to find a link between the leading role in the campaign and the gender equality entries in Finland’s current Government Programme and Finland’s development policy priorities. Finland is known in the world as a top country in gender equality, education, technology and innovation, and the lead role in the Action Coalition offers Finnish actors opportunities to be at the forefront in international contexts.
Finland has selected four priorities that it will promote in the Action Coalition:
- Increasing the number, participation and leadership roles of women and girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM sectors).
- Narrowing the gender gap when it comes to digital skills and digitalisation.
- Developing gender-sensitive and participatory technologies and innovations that also promote non-discrimination. Expanding and developing women's rights relating to digitalisation and innovations as well as supporting equality for women who are involved in the drafting of these rights and developing innovations.
- Reducing violence against women and creating safe digital spaces for all. Using technology without the risk of violence and discrimination.
Finland considers it important that the Action Coalition addresses especially women and girls with disabilities. Finland emphasises the impact of social innovations on gender equality.
The leaders of the Action Coalitions will select 3–4 concrete measures on which the group will focus in its work. They can be related, for example, to education, revision of norms or legislative amendments. In each Action Coalition, at least one of the measures that are supported must promote teenage girls’ position. In addition, the leaders must make their own commitments to promote the list of measures in their own Action Coalition.
The Action Coalitions will be complemented in the course of 2021. Finnish actors are free to join the Action Coalitions of the Generation Equality campaign. Since Finland is in many ways an active advocate of gender equality, it will participate not only in the work of the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality but as a member of other Action Coalitions.
Equality supports the economy
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women’s participation in working life explains as much as 10–20 percent of the Nordic countries’ economic growth in the past fifty years. Within individual companies, the impact of gender equality on economic growth is even stronger.
It has been estimated that at the current pace, reaching gender equality in the global economy will take more than 70 years. In accordance with the European Commission and the World Economic Forum, the technology sector is an example of an area where gender equality continues to seriously lag behind. There is scientific proof that in the long term a low number of women and girls in workplaces will deteriorate growth prospects and lead to less innovative activity.
The Generation Equality campaign offers an opportunity to accelerate the change. At the same time, the leading role in one Action Coalition of the campaign opens up an opportunity for Finnish companies to present their technological expertise, share experiences and develop their international competitive capacity for the benefit of an equal and sustainable world.
Generation Equality in Finland
In autumn and winter 2020, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs together with its cooperation partners are organising discussion and information events on the Generation Equality campaign. As soon as the Action Coalition led by Finland has determined the group’s international objectives and related measures, decisions will be made on national measures and commitments.
Sustainable change is effected in collaboration. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs warmly invites organisations and companies to join in the campaign.