Interview with Anne-Mari Virolainen, Minister for Trade and International Development of Finland

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Anne-Mari Virolainen, Minister for Trade and International Development of Finland. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Prime Minister’s Office
Anne-Mari Virolainen, Minister for Trade and International Development of Finland. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Prime Minister’s Office

In 2017, the Government of Finland donated a core contribution of USD 11.6 million to UN Women. In addition, the Government contributed USD 6.9 million in multi-bi support – bringing its overall 2017 contribution to approximately USD 18.6 million and making Finland UN Women’s fifth largest contributor. In an interview, Minister for Trade and International Development of Finland, Anne-Mari Virolainen, explains why gender equality is Finland’s top priority in foreign and development policy.

Why is UN Women a good fit for channeling your development assistance?

Advancing women’s rights and gender equality is a longstanding priority of our foreign and development policy, and UN Women’s strategic priorities are consistent with our own priorities. Therefore, UN Women is a perfect partner for us in advancing these goals.

We have had excellent cooperation with UN Women since its establishment and we are proud to be one of the main country donors of UN Women. In addition to funding UN Women and working in the Executive Board, currently in its Bureau, our joint events are examples of our excellent cooperation.

Why is gender equality important to your Government?

Improving gender equality has been a determined policy throughout our independence, both nationally and internationally. Actually, gender equality is the very foundation of our nation and our own experience shows that advancing gender equality benefits the whole society. That’s why it is our first priority in the foreign and development policy.

How does women’s empowerment and gender equality feature in your multilateral aid policy?

Enhancing women’s and girls’ status and rights is our first priority in foreign and development policy because evidence shows that enhancing the rights and status of women and girls and their opportunities strengthens the society as a whole. Gender equality is mainstreamed throughout our development policy. We will ensure that equality is taken into account in all development policy, multilateral as well as bilateral.

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?

We know that UN Women values core support that gives more flexibility in allocating it. Core support is directed to implementation of the Strategic Plan, which is commonly agreed in the UN Women Executive Board. The Strategic Plan is very well in line with our development policy priorities. Therefore, we trust that our core funding is utilized to advance our priorities and trust UN Women’s judgement in deciding how to use the core funding we provide in order to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the most effective way possible.