Evaluation acknowledges Finland's work for women and girls’ rights

Evaluation acknowledges Finland's work for women and girls’ rights

According to an independent evaluation conducted for the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland’s development policy has been successful in promoting good practices to enhance the rights of women and girls. However, in addition to political commitment, a more clearly defined gender equality strategy would be required.

For a long time, Finland’s development policy has entailed a commitment to promoting the rights of women and girls. An external evaluation commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs states that Finland has successfully fostered good practices at a global level, as well as at the country-specific and local levels in its cooperation countries. Nevertheless, the evaluation report points out that there is a gap between political commitment and the related implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It is difficult to analyse results if there are no clear, predefined goals.

The purpose of the evaluation was to gather proven, good practices and examples for learning purposes. One example of a successful model mentioned in the evaluation is supporting the supervision of women’s interests in a manner that stems from practical needs. For example, reproductive healthcare services have been improved in order to curb female genital mutilation practices. The simultaneous reinforcement of women’s technical skills and leadership has also contributed to the way women see themselves as members of society, as well as the way they are seen by others in their communities.

“Gender inequality is one of the biggest obstacles to development. Experience has shown that enhancing the position, rights and opportunities of women and girls strengthens the entire society and helps achieve other development goals. Finland also supports the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, which are a precondition for development,” says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen.

According to the evaluation, Finland has influenced the practices of promoting gender equality both within the framework of international organisations and through bilateral development cooperation. At the local level, non-governmental organisations are doing valuable work on shaping deep-rooted attitudes. Nevertheless, the evaluation states that the learning processes and synergies between different forms of cooperation should still be enhanced.

The evaluation, which was published on Thursday, indicates that Finland’s commitment to equality is a self-evident fact for those practising development cooperation—at least at the political level. However, the concrete steps and phases between politics and results have not been defined clearly enough. Therefore, the evaluation sets out a recommendation to clarify the gender equality strategy and prepare an action plan.

A further improvement recommendation outlined in the evaluation is that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs should solidify the connections between country-specific and global goals and enhance employee capacity. In addition, the processes of monitoring and learning from results should be improved.

The evaluation report on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website: um.fi/publications

More information:  Jyrki Pulkkinen, Director, Development Evaluations, tel. +358 (0)29 535 0978, Sanna Pulkkinen, Desk Officer, Development Evaluations, tel. +358 (0)29 535 1346 and Juha Kirstilä, Special Adviser of the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. +358 (0)40 552 8200.

The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi