Interview with Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Kai Mykkänen

Date: Friday, July 7, 2017

Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen. Photo: Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen. Photo: Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

In 2016, Finland’s core contribution to UN Women was USD 11.23 and non-core contribution was USD 3.3 million. In an interview, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen recognizes that UN Women is able to deliver results on promoting gender equality worldwide, which is why the country remains one of UN Women’s largest donors.

How important is gender equality and women’s empowerment to your Government’s multilateral aid policy?

Promoting gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the full realization of their rights have been core values and a consistent policy goal of Finland for over a century. Some of the key factors which have promoted Finland's transformation from an impoverished to a modern, high-income country are that both women and men are well-educated and participate actively in politics and the economy. Still, many challenges remain and our work must continue.

These values and goals are central also to our foreign and development policy, including multilateral aid policy. Our other priorities include strengthening of the developing countries' own economies to promote employment, livelihoods and well-being, promoting democracy and the functioning of societies as well as access to food, water and energy, and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Why is UN Women a good fit for channeling Finland’s development assistance?

UN Women's activities are of relevance in all our development policy priority areas described above, and UN Women has a central role in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. For these reasons, UN Women remains one of Finland's main UN partner agencies. This is also reflected in our funding, as only a few multilateral organizations continue to receive this level of funding from Finland.

Finland has been a strong supporter of UN Women from the very beginning. In fact, Finland's commitment can be traced back to the legacy of Ms Helvi Sipilä, a Finn who was the first woman to hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations and who was also instrumental in the founding of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Finland aspires to strengthen the leadership role of UN Women in its global efforts, and its triple mandate offers considerable potential. While challenges remain, including securing a critical mass of resources, UN Women has been able to deliver results for women and girls and the Entity is committed to further strengthening its effectiveness.

Finland has a strong history of support to UN Women, through both core and non-core funding, but being particularly strong on core. Why is core funding important for Finland?

During the past years, Finland has been one of UN Women's largest donors. In 2014, we topped the list of core donors. In 2016, our core funding to UN Women was USD 11.23 million. We continue to stress the importance of core resources as they support the full implementation of UN Women's strategic plan. Core funding is the cornerstone of a flexible and responsive organization.

While core funding remains a priority, softly earmarked resources are also important. Finland channels significant earmarked, yet quite flexible funding, through UN Women. In 2016, our non-core funding amounted to over USD 3.3 million. Finland has supported UN Women's work for example in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Kirgizstan, Jordan, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

What message would you like to send to other donor countries that are considering how best to channel their development dollars?

Achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is a prerequisite for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. UN Women has a central role in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. However, it cannot fulfil its potential and deliver on its mandate without sufficient resources. I encourage other Member States to join our common effort to achieve gender equality by 2030.