Finland’s Development Policy

The aim of Finland’s development policy is to support developing countries’ efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development. Finnish development policy strives to strengthen the rights of the most vulnerable, promote gender equality and improve climate change preparedness and mitigation. Women and girls are at the center of Finnish development policy and gender equality is cross-curring objective in Finland’s development policy. 

The rights and status of women and girls is one of the four priority areas in the current Finnish-development policy. The MFA outlines that gender inequality is one of the greatest problems in developing countries. Experience has shown that enhancing the rights and the position of women and girls and their opportunities to participate strengthens the society as a whole, thus promoting attainment of the other development goals. Finland possesses the credibility and know-how to foster gender equality internationally. 

Improving women and girls’ health and enhancing their awareness and opportunities to claim their own rights, are emphasized under the priority area. It is important that women and girls have improved access to quality basic services, particularly health, education and social services. In addition, Document on the rights of women and girls (Finnish MFA) note that “The autonomy and self-determination of women and girls is enhanced by improving their awareness and opportunities to claim their own rights and make decisions concerning them. Men and boys are more actively involved in gender equality promotion. Furthermore, improved measures and services are used to fight violence and abuse against women and girls and human trafficking.”

SRHR is one of the priorities of the Finnish development policy and cooperation. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland’s Report on Development Policy Across Parliamentary Terms states that “Finland supports the safeguarding of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women and girls, including those with disabilities, and their right to access high-quality and non-discriminatory sexual and reproductive health services. Finland seeks to strongly reduce maternal and child mortality and promotes comprehensive sexual education as well as the inclusion of men and boys in the realisation of these rights. Finnish expertise relating to maternal and child health as well as contraception clinics is also taken into account. At the same time, all these measures are linked with the broader health policies pursued by developing countries.”

Finland support sexual and reproductive health and right (SRHR) working the following bilateral countries: 

Afganistan

Finland supports Afghanistan through humanitarian assistance. Development cooperation was suspended in mid-August 2021.

Previously in development cooperation in Afganistan Finland was supporting SRHR projects through MSI Reproductive Choices organization. The integrated Reproductive and Maternal Health project improved the availability accessibility quality and acceptability of sexual and reproductive health information and services for vulnerable and marginalized women girls men and boys in six provinces of Afghanistan. The project was aligned with the national development goals of Afghanistan and it directly enhanced the rights and status of women and girls as well as reduced poverty and inequality. Services were delivered through various channels including clinics mobile clinics and nurse entrepreneurs. MSI educated and empowered communities to enable individuals to make informed decisions.

Somalia 

In 2021–2024, Finland’s bilateral cooperation in Somalia will focus on statebuilding and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. The financial frame for 2021–2024 will be approximately EUR 54 million.

Finland is supporting UN’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency UNFPA’s Country Programme in Somalia. Finland’s support is EUR 5 million in 2021–2024.

Finland is supporting EUR 2 million in 2021 to improving healthcare and education, which the Somali diaspora is supporting via MIDA FINNSOM II, which is a project of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Myanmar 

Finland continues its support for the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency UNFPA’s Women and Girls First (WGF) Programme in Myanmar. The project promotes the rights of women and girls in conflict areas. Finland’s support for the project in 2020–2022 is EUR 4 million.

UNFPA’s project in Myanmar helps women in the conflict areas to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and prevents and reduces sexual and gender-based violence (GBV). The aim is to change norms in society so that women and girls would be able to demand and have equal rights, especially in emergency situations.

Syria

In its development cooperation to strengthen equality, Finland focuses on improving the position and rights of women and girls in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, who are affected by the Syrian crisis. Focuses are: Rights of women and girls are realised, women have access to sexual and reproductive health services and there is less gender-based violence.

Ongoing programmes and projects:
UN Women’s Eid bi Eid project in Jordan to empower women in refugee and host communities and UN Women 1325 regional programme.

n 2021, Finland’s development cooperation allocated to supporting the realisation of women’s and girls’ rights in Syria’s neighboring countries will be approximately EUR 1.8 million. In addition, Finland channels humanitarian funding, for example, to supporting the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency UNFPA in Syria, which focuses on providing sexual and reproductive health services.

Mozambique

In 2021–2024, Finland’s bilateral funding will also be used to advance the rights of women and girls and to promote opportunities in the private sector in Mozambique. The proposed support to Mozambique in 2021–2024 is EUR 58 million. Today, Finland puts particular emphasis on quality and equity in education, highlighting the importance of improving learning results through the better quality of the entire education system, including teacher training. Deeper dialogue on gender, as well as the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls, is vital both for the development of the education system and the society as a whole.

Tanzania

Finland supports UNFPA’s programme aiming to protect the rights and choices of women and girls of all abilities: EUR 5.25 million in 2021–2024. One of Finland’s objective in Tanzania is that people who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence have better access to support services.

In Finland’s multilateral development cooperation, Finland gives priority to UN agencies that promote gender equality and work to reduce inequality:

United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency UNFPA stresses the need for proactive intervention in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Finland is one of the largest supporter of the UNFPA. In 2021 Finland´s core funding contribution to UNFPA was EUR 33 million.

UN Women – the UN Entity for Gender Equality Finland emphasises the combating of violence against women and the role of women in peacebuilding, economic development and decision-making. With a core funding contribution of EUR 19 million in 2020.

United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF Finland prioritises girls’ education and child protection. In 2020, Finland’s core funding for the organisation was EUR 7 million. 

Read more: 

Report on Development Policy Across Parliamentary Terms (Finnish MFA, 2021)

Government Report on Development Policy (2016)

Development Policy and Development Cooperation (Finnish MFA) 

Document on the rights of women and girls (Finnish MFA)

UNFPA – Donor Profile, Finland