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. However, it is not very well written out in the Government Report on Development Policy (2016). It is mentioned in the Report that “Finland will promote the capability of countries to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to remove the obstacles to their realisation.“
Finland support sexual and reproductive health and right (SRHR) worki in the following bilateral countries:
In Afganistan Finland is supporting SRHR projects through Marie Stop International (MSI) organization. The integrated Reproductive and Maternal Health project will improve 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 is aligned with the national development goals of Afghanistan and it directly enhances the rights and status of women and girls as well as reduces poverty and inequality. Services are delivered through various channels including clinics mobile clinics and nurse entrepreneurs. MSI educates and empowers communities to enable individuals to make informed decisions.
Strenghtening the wellbeing and rights of girls and women, reproductive health services:
- Supporting the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Country Programme by EUR 10 million in 2017–2020. Improvement of sexual and reproductive health is emphasised in the whole country.
- As part of the IOM’s projects, healthcare professionals representing the Somali diaspora in Finland participate in the development of the healthcare system in different parts of Somalia. The focus in this work is on the development of maternal and children’s healthcare services. The programme includes development of the local education sector. Finland’s support amounts to EUR 12.2 million in 2017–2021
Improvement of women’s and girls’ position and access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as to services for victims of gender-based violence in conflict areas. The support is channelled through UNFPA: EUR 3.65 million in 2016–2019.
Finland is supporting SRHR in humanitarian settings in Syria and cross-border programs in Turkey and Jordania through UNFPA. In 2018 UNFPA’s Syria Regional Office will aim to strengthen the organization’s operations and its geographical coverage increase the acquisition of medical equipment supplies and medicines improve preparedness and preparedness planning for example in badly destroyed areas and to improve the education and livelihoods of vulnerable women.
In Finland’s multilateral development cooperation, Finland gives priority to UN agencies that promote gender equality and work to reduce inequality:
United Nations Population Fund UNFPA Finland stressis 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, even though the funding has decresed yearly. In 2017 Finland´s core funding contribution to UNFPA was EUR 17 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 10 million in 2017
United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF Finland’s priorities at UNICEF include education for girls and child welfare. In 2017, Finland’s core funding for the organisation totalled EUR 7 million.