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Katariina Räikkönen, 16, will work alongside Prime Minister Juha Sipilä in this year’s celebration of the International Day of the Girl. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

How do you feel about filling Prime Minister Sipilä’s shoes for the day?

“It’s a very important job and an amazing opportunity. I think I’ll learn a lot and see lots of places, but I also hope that he will learn something from me and that we will learn from each other. He’ll get a better idea of what young people want and what girls want in the world,” says Katariina Räikkönen, 16, from the town of Raisio in south-western Finland.

Katariina takes a sip of her tea. She appears calm and smiles a lot. It’s an early Thursday morning at the end of September, and the cozy café at Hietalahdentori in Helsinki has just opened its doors.  In about two weeks, on October 11, Katariina will be working alongside Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. She’s one of the 13 candidates appointed by Plan International Finland from their children’s board to take up leading positions in organizations, including companies like Finlayson, Kotipizza, Orion and Supercell – and, yes, the Government Palace.

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[alert type=white ]”It’s clear that something is wrong because boys are not performing as well as girls in school.”[/alert]

Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The schedule for Katariina’s takeover is currently being planned but giving speeches is one thing that will be required of her for certain. Katariina, as it happens, is no novice when it comes to speech-making, she was chosen for the role in light of the good impression she made delivering one her speeches.

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[alert type=white ]“I think anybody else on the board would have been equally suitable for the job but he’d just seen me give the speech so he decided it would be me.”[/alert]

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Girls’ Takeover is one project (which successfully piloted last year) that has been organised in accordance with this year’s  International Day of the Girl celebrations, where over five hundred girls across sixty countries will be assuming the roles of various leaders including; presidents, head teachers, mayors, business CEOs and more, in an “emphatic statement of their power and potential”.

The event will serve as a mutual mentorship, where the participants can exchange their ideas and knowledge as well as collaboratively work towards making their given field – whether it be public policy, media, business or technology – more porous and accessible to aspiring young women.

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