Finnish Design Shop supports UN Women Finland to advance equality

Finnish Design Shop's traditions for International Women's Day include a charity campaign to promote equality. Our donation will go to UN Women Finland, which works to ensure that women can make their voices heard all around the world.

UN Women Guinea
UN Women is the world’s leading organization for women’s and girls’ empowerment and human rights, with projects in over 90 countries. Photo: UN Women / Joe Saade

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY is a very special occasion for us at Finnish Design Shop: Nordic values, including equality, are at the core of our operations every single day. For several years, it has been our tradition to organize a charity campaign around International Women’s Day to support work for equality globally. In 2021, we will make a donation to UN Women Finland, the Finnish national committee for UN Women.

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But what does UN Women’s equality work entail, then? We asked UN Women Finland's Executive Director Jaana Hirsikangas to tell us about the organization and its history.

UN Women Finland Jaana Hirsikangas
UN Women Finland is the national committee of the UN's entity for gender equality. The committee is headed by Jaana Hirsikangas.

Jaana Hirsikangas, what is UN Women?
“UN Women is a United Nations entity that advocates for gender equality and promotes the rights and empowerment of women and girls globally.

Our goal is a world where it is just as valuable to be born a girl as it is a boy and where everyone has equal rights and opportunities. We are working to end discrimination against women and girls and to achieve equality between women and men.”

UN Women India
UN Women supports women’s political participation, for example, by training women in leadership and providing mentoring. Photo: UN Women / Ganganjit Singh

Could you tell us a little bit about the history of the organization?
“The forming of UN Women has actually been strongly influenced by our fellow Finn Helvi Sipilä, who was the first female Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Sipilä was known as an advocate for women's rights, and thanks to her, 1975 was declared the International Year of Women. This was followed by the Decade for Women, and UNIFEM, the predecessor to UN Women, was founded in 1976. UN Women was established in July 2010 on the basis of UNIFEM and three other old institutions as part of UN reform.

UN Women Guatemala
Guatemalan Manuela Caal Tot de Mac irrigates the aloe Vera plants in her garden. She has been involved in a UN Women project where she has started selling shampoo made from the plants to earn extra income. Photo: UN Women / Ryan Brown
UN Women Indonesia
UN Women has campaigned in Indonesia to end violence against women in order to make them feel safe on the streets and public transport in the capital city Jakarta. Photo: UN Women / Ryan Brown

And what is UN Women Finland?
“UN Women Finland is the Finnish national committee of the international UN Women. Our task is to raise funds for UN Women's work in promoting equality. In addition, we do communication and advocacy work that supports fundraising.

“The forming of the entire UN Women has been strongly influenced by the Finnish Helvi Sipilä, who was known as an advocate for women's rights.”

UNIFEM, the predecessor of UN Women, received its first national committee in May 1981 – it was established in Finland. The aforementioned Helvi Sipilä also served as the founder and first chairperson of UNIFEM Finland. When UN Women was founded, UN Women Finland was established on the basis of UNIFEM Finland.”

UN Women Zambia
UN Women also collaborates a lot with other organizations. Pictured, Zambian women participate in training organized by UN Women and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Photo: UN Women / Urjasi Rudra

Where does UN Women operate?
“UN Women has operations around the world: in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab countries and North Africa, Asia Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia. In each country, the focus is on projects relevant to the area, and the work is planned and implemented in collaboration with local women's organizations.”

Who does UN Women’s work support?
“UN Women’s programs have a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of women, and in addition, through families, communities and legislation, the quality of life of millions of people is improving. UN Women also reaches women from all the most vulnerable groups, such as refugees, women with disabilities and domestic workers with no rights.”

UN Women Nepal
In Nepal, UN Women has been involved in a program aimed at improving the situation of Nepalese women farmers and ending discrimination. Photo: UN Women / Narendra Shrestha
UN Women Tanzania
Betty Mtewele works in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, as a market trader and as chair of a local women traders’ association. She and more than 600 other women have received training on how to fight discrimination they face at work. Photo: UN Women / Daniel Donald

What does UN Women's equality work entail?
“UN Women leads and coordinates UN's efforts to advance the full realization of gender equality. It supports UN member states in achieving equality and works with governments and civil society, for example, to create laws and services that truly benefit women and girls. We also support girls and women in conflicts, disasters and peacebuilding.

“UN Women advocates equal opportunities for women to participate in all aspects of life.”

UN Women strives to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met globally in the lives of women and girls, as well. We offer women the opportunity for decent work and their own income, and we promote democracy, human rights and women's participation in decision-making. We stand for equal participation of women in all aspects of life.”

UN Women Cameroon
Women have gathered for a community meeting at the multipurpose center at the Ngam refugee camp in Cameroon. The centers offer health counseling and vocational coaching, among other things. Photo: UN Women / Ryan Brown

What: UN Women

  • UN organization for gender equality, established in 2010
  • Full name United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
  • Advocates for the empowerment and human rights of women and girls
  • More than 200 development projects in more than 90 countries

Edit: Emmi Ratilainen

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