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.
Read more in the press release of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.