Opening remarks by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the HeForShe IMPACT Summit on 26th September 2018

On behalf of all the HeForShe Champions across government, business and academia, I would like to warmly welcome you to this HeForShe IMPACT Summit.

We HeForShe Champions are addressing some of the most pressing gender issues, such as equal pay, unpaid care and domestic work, and gender-based violence. Today, we are releasing the HeForShe Emerging Solutions Report. In this report, all of us have shared not only the policies and programmes we have put in place. We also highlight the impact created as a result and what we have learned along the way.

I became a HeForShe IMPACT Champion in the spring of 2015. In Finland, improving gender equality has been a determined policy throughout our independence and it has been crucial to our success. Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls are central issues also in our external relations. “Women, peace and security” has been one of our foreign policy priorities for more than a decade. As a HeForShe IMPACT Champion I’m proud to say that Finland is one of the strongest supporters of UN Women.

Today, my country is ranked as one of the top countries in the Global Gender Gap Index. Still, a lot of work remains to be done also in Finland. That’s why, as one of my three HeForShe IMPACT Commitments, I have committed to decreasing violence against women in Finland by 5% by 2020.

To begin to address this, we are focusing on the conscripts in the Finnish Defence Forces – the majority of whom are young men. As part of their general training, the conscripts are educated on the prevention of violence against women and girls and on aggression control. Since almost 80 per cent of our male population goes through military service, this is a crucial window of opportunity to address violence against women and girls in our country.

Partnering closely with the HeForShe movement, we have built on our national education module to develop a unique guide on managing emotions. We would like to put this in the hands of every military personnel around the world. And it does not need to be restricted to the military: this module is openly transferrable to different civilian contexts and target groups. You can find the recently published guide on the UN Women website.

I’m only highlighting one practice but there are many more as my fellow HeForShe Champions very well know and as the report will tell you. Our hope is that all of you, and everyone beyond this room, make these practices your own. These are only the first steps of a long journey, but we are already seeing that change is happening. Equality isn’t only about enhancing the lives of women and girls, it’s about enhancing stability, security and peace – it’s about making this a better world for all.

I am HeForShe, we are HeForShe and we hope that you will join us along the way so that we can all do our part in creating a gender-equal world.