In power since December 2019, Finnish Social Democratic leader Sanna Marin, 35, heads a coalition government, with the Center Party, Green League, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party, all led by women.
In March, a NATO report showed that women in your government, and you in particular, are the targets of intensive social media harassment. How did you react ?
Violence against women is a parallel, shadowy epidemic that has progressed during the pandemic. Part of this manifests itself in online harassment, hate messages, which affect women much more than men. Attacks on social media are violent and women are targeted because of their gender. The problem is not just for Finland.
What is it possible to do?
In the worst case, this phenomenon prevents women from having an influence. We can pass laws and make digital societies take responsibility. But this is mainly linked to the environment within our societies: gender-based violence is not a new phenomenon, it has always existed. We need to do much more to make women feel safe in their daily lives, at home, at work, in their leisure time and on the Internet. The #metoo movement has made the phenomenon visible. Women must be encouraged to speak out. This is the only way to change society.
The Nordic countries are pioneers in gender equality …
We have made a lot of progress over the past decade, but there is still work to be done, including the sharing of parental leave and equal pay, which are two of my government’s key priorities. We have presented a reform which slightly lengthens the length of paternity leave and encourages families to share more childcare responsibilities: while women are the only ones staying at home, men advance in their careers and in terms of remuneration.
You grew up in a rainbow family, through your mother and her partner. How do you react to the Hungarian law against homosexuality?
What is happening in Hungary is very very worrying. The discussions we had on this subject at the last European Council on June 24 were very tough, but they were necessary. I am also very concerned about the condition of women in Poland, as well as in Turkey, with Ankara’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. These are all signs of the rise of conservatism. We must act against these reactions.
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