Press release 22/2017
1 February 2017
It is a cause for concern for Finland that the work done to enhance the sexual and reproductive health of women in developing countries is facing headwinds. In its own development policy, Finland has therefore focussed its resources on the strengthening of girls’ and women’s rights.
“Finland shall assume a stronger role in the political debates within the European Union and the United Nations. We’ll have to speak for those whose voice would not be heard otherwise. In other words, we shall actively exert influence to make the international community address the issues of sexual violence against women, young people’s right to sexual education, sexual health services and a secure motherhood,” notes Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen.
Finland supports a recent initiative by the Netherlands, SheDecides, that strives to secure support for organisations that suffer from cuts envisaged by the United States. Among these organisations is the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), one of Finland’s main multilateral partners.
The ability of women and girls to decide over their own body and have a say in decisions on getting married and having children is essential for the well-being and livelihood of their entire family. It is also a precondition for harmonious demographic development. Currently over 220 million women worldwide have no access to contraception, although they would opt for it.
If implemented, the cuts envisaged by the U.S. in family planning and reproductive health programmes, worth an estimated USD 600 million on an annual basis, will weaken especially women's and girls’ chances to access the services they need.
“Finland must be present where we are needed the most. Finland therefore wishes to highlight in its development policy the rights of girls and women, and, in the current circumstances, focus especially on sexual and reproductive health and associated rights,” Minister Mykkänen says.
Finland has, for a long time, focussed its resources on the strengthening of girls’ and women’ rights. The majority of the health initiatives supported by Finland are related to sexual and reproductive health. Among the UN bodies, the bulk of Finnish aid goes to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWomen). In 2016, Finland’s core funding for UNFPA amounted to EUR 19 million. Finland also supports the work of UNFPA and UNICEF against female genital mutilation (FGM). Furthermore, Finland funds initiatives promoting sexual and reproductive health and related rights in countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar and Somalia.
Inquiries: Gisela Blumenthal, Senior Adviser, Development Policy, tel. +358 295 350 958 and Pasi Rajala, Special Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. +358 400 464 393.
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are of the format email@example.com