Women’s rights are human rights! Join us in supporting UN Women’s work for equality

Perhaps the most beautiful way to celebrate International Women’s Day is by reaching out to those in need. In an interview with Design Stories, Emma Winiecki, the Head of Communications at UN Women Finland, shares why sustained efforts towards gender equality are crucial for peace and democracy. Read more and join us in donating!

“Despite the daily news of crises and conflicts, and the threats and regressions to gender equality worldwide, there is still much to celebrate,” says Emma Winiecki.

IN 2024, THE CELEBRATION of International Women’s Day is once again overshadowed by major global conflicts: the Gaza war is now in its fifth month, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is entering its third year.

Continuing a tradition of recent years, Finnish Design Shop is supporting the efforts of UN Women Finland, the United Nations’ organization for gender equality, with a donation for International Women’s Day. For each order placed in our online store between 7 and 12 March, a donation of 5 euros will be directed to UN Women’s work, all the way up to 5,000 euros.

In an interview with Design Stories, Emma Winiecki, Head of Communications at UN Women Finland, sheds light on the organization’s efforts across the globe to uphold the rights of women and girls.

Palestinian families fleeing conflict head towards the Al Zaitoun area from Gaza City in November 2023. UN Women has been working in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1997. Photo: UN Women/Samar Abu Elouf.

This year, Finnish Design Shop’s Women’s Day donation lends its support to UN Women’s endeavors worldwide, including the Gaza conflict. What is the most urgent need in Gaza right now?
“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic. Current data indicates over 30,000 deaths, with an estimated 70% being women and children. The primary needs for Gaza’s women and their families are a ceasefire and humanitarian aid – UN Women has been consistently calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

We recently delivered 15,000 emergency aid packages to Gaza in partnership with the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), and essential supplies for 7,000 women and children in collaboration with the Egyptian Red Crescent. Furthermore, UN Women and the World Food Programme (WFP) are striving to provide cash and food assistance to 75,000 women and their families in total.

UN Women directly supports local women’s organizations, which are crucial in this crisis. Our interviews reveal that ten out of the twelve women’s organizations in Gaza are still partially operational, yet less than 1% of humanitarian funding is allocated to them.”

Over the past two years, millions of Ukrainian women and children have been forced to leave their homes. This image captures a moment at the Ukraine-Moldova border in March 2022. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.

Last year, Finnish Design Shop’s Women’s Day donation was directed to UN Women’s emergency fund in Ukraine. Can you tell us about your work in Ukraine?
“UN Women has been active in Ukraine since 1999, advocating for the rights of Ukrainian women and girls. We are engaged in hands-on work with the Ukrainian civil society, especially women’s organizations, by providing support to victims of sexual violence through legal advice and psychosocial support.

We’ve supplied essentials like food, medicine, hygiene products, shelter, water, and electricity to women and their families. UN Women has also established safe spaces for women affected by the war, offering them security and services such as therapy and childcare.”

• Read the story: Finnish Design Shop continues to support UN Women’s work in Ukraine >

UN Women’s efforts also extend to Afghanistan, where the Taliban regime has been in power for nearly three years. How is the work for gender equality carried out in a country where equality is virtually non-existent?
“When women and girls are pushed to the fringes of society and their fundamental rights are under threat, the work for gender equality becomes more crucial than ever. UN Women has been operating in Afghanistan for over 20 years, and we are certainly not abandoning local women and girls now when they need us the most. We have more than 60 local women’s organization partners in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, UN Women focuses on women as leaders and active participants, not merely as recipients of aid and ‘vulnerable groups.”

In Afghanistan, UN Women focuses on women as leaders and active participants, not merely as recipients of aid and ‘vulnerable groups.’ Despite significant risks, many human rights defenders and activists have remained in the country to continue their vital work in defending women’s rights; we provide them with training and safe housing. Afghanistan is among the most dangerous countries for women, and we support women who have faced violence and actively work to prevent gender-based violence.”

UN Women Finland’s Women’s Day campaign, “A Woman's Place is Everywhere”, highlights the stories of inspirational women. Gambian Jaha Dukureh, a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, is dedicated to ending child marriage and female genital mutilation. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.
Argentinian feminist and LGBTIQ+ and human rights activist Fernanda Rotondo is fighting for an equal and non-violent future for everyone. Photo by UN Women/Gala Abramovich.
Kenyan Fleria Mukhula, with support from UN Women, founded the Bungoma Women’s Peace Network in 2022 and was honored with the County Hero Award by the Kenyan government for her peace-building efforts. UN Women/Luke Horswell

In a world darkened by seemingly hopeless conflicts, it can be hard to spot the beacons of light. Could you share some recent successes that have brought hope to the status of women?
“Despite the daily news of crises and conflicts, and the threats and regressions to gender equality worldwide, there is still much to celebrate. Women and girls around the world are breaking stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings, paving the way for themselves and others, refusing to step aside or relinquish their rights and positions. Gender equality is not optional; it’s imperative. Women’s rights are not a luxury; they are human rights.

“Women’s rights are not a luxury; they are human rights.”

The theme for UN Women Finland’s Women’s Day campaign is ‘A Woman’s Place is Everywhere’. The campaign aims to show that women have the right to fully participate in all societal spheres, and gender or any other characteristic should not limit this right. The campaign highlights inspiring stories of women from around the world who, by their example, demonstrate that women indeed drive tangible change and progress every single day.

Women are fighting for human rights in places where it can be life-threatening, like Iran and Afghanistan. Women maintain vital societal functions amidst the worst crises, in places like Gaza and Ukraine. Women like Argentinian Fernanda Rotondo are advancing the rights of sexual and gender minorities, women like Gambian Jaha Dukureh are working to end child marriage and genital mutilation, and women like Kenyan Fleria Mukhula are relentlessly building peace.”

Participants of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in November 2023. Photo by UN Women/Magfuzur Rahman Shana.

This year, the theme for UN Women’s International Women’s Day is Invest in women: Accelerate progress. How can each of us contribute to achieving this goal?
“Investing in women isn’t just the morally right choice; it’s essential for a world where sustainable development, flourishing democracy, and lasting peace are realities. Investments are needed at all societal levels. For instance, investing in care services could significantly reduce the unpaid care work women do, potentially creating almost 300 million jobs by 2035. If governments were to invest comprehensively in education, family planning, equitable and equal pay, and increasing social transfers, more than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty.

But we don’t just have to wait for policymakers to act. Each of us can contribute to achieving gender equality and upholding the rights of women and girls in our daily lives. We can challenge inequality and discriminatory practices whenever we encounter them, demand transparent and equitable processes in our workplaces, and advocate for zero tolerance of sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

“We can challenge inequality and discriminatory practices whenever we encounter them.”

Last year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that at the current pace, achieving gender equality would take 300 years. I believe I speak for all the women and girls in the world when I say that is 300 years too many. Equality should have been achieved yesterday – the women and girls of the world can’t afford to wait any longer.”

How can the work of UN Women be supported?
“Support can come in various forms, such as making donations to UN Women. With these funds, UN Women can carry out projects that promote equality in around 90 countries worldwide, making a tangible difference in the lives of millions of women and girls. It’s fantastic that Finnish Design Shop has committed to supporting UN Women’s work in a long-term partnership, which is incredibly meaningful for UN Women in Finland. We hope this collaboration will serve as an example and inspiration for many other companies.”

About UN Women:

  • Founded in 2010 as the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women
  • Implements over 200 development projects in more than 90 countries
  • Leads and coordinates the UN’s efforts to achieve gender equality
  • Supports girls and women in conflicts, disasters, and peacebuilding efforts

We kindly encourage all design enthusiasts to join us in supporting UN Women. Every small donation contributes to a big difference!

Join us in supporting equality

In honor of International Women’s Day, Finnish Design Shop, together with Franckly, will donate 5 euros to UN Women’s work for each order placed in our online store until 12 March, up to a total of 5,000 euros.

You can also choose a suitable sum and make your donation directly to UN Women Finland:

Donate to UN Women Finland’s work for equality >

Edit: Nora Uotila Illustration: Suvi Suitiala

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