Yasmeen Hassan, the global executive director of Equality Now, received the International Gender Equality Prize in Tampere on Dec. 2, 2019. Picture: Press photo

The Government of Finland awarded the International Gender Equality Prize. The prize, which was awarded for the second time, was presented to Equality Now, a global non-profit organization, which has succeeded in changing discriminatory laws in different countries.

Thomas Blomqvist, the minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality, awarded the prize to Yasmeen Hassan, the global executive director of Equality Now, in Tampere.

According to the Finnish government, gender equality has been a conscious political decision that has made Finland one of the most successful countries in the world on many levels.

With the help of the prize, Finland wants to bring about actions that will accelerate progress for gender equality around the world.

Equality Now commends the Finnish government for recognizing the importance of gender equality and creating the prize. “Equality for women and girls is the solution to some of the biggest challenges the world is facing today—peace and security, poverty eradication and climate change. In addition to being the right and just thing to do, it is also the smartest investment for humanity,” says Hassan.

“Equality for women and girls is the solution to some of the biggest challenges the world is facing today—peace and security, poverty eradication and climate change.

Yasmeen Hassan

During its 27 years of operation, Equality Now has managed to change more than 50 discriminatory laws in different countries. Equality Now works locally based on each country’s needs, but it also has an international effect on legislation, human trafficking and practices. Men and young people are also involved in the organization. Among other things, the organization has succeeded in changing attitudes towards female genital mutilation and child marriages, and as a result, more and more people now disapprove of these practices. The prize money of 300,000 euros will be allocated to the organization’s campaign for equal family law.

Equality Now has tirelessly highlighted the extent to which women are subjected to violence. The organization has also strongly emphasized that women must have the right to decide about their own lives and their sexual and reproductive health. According to Blomqvist, the aforementioned themes “have taken a backward step, even in the EU.” “As president of the Council of the EU, Finland has emphasized the rule of law and international treaties which, if implemented, would already guarantee equal rights regardless of gender,” Blomqvist says.

About 300 proposals from more than 60 countries were submitted for consideration for the award during the open nomination period. The Finnish government made its decision based on the proposal by an independent international jury. The jury included Pekka Haavisto, the minister for foreign affairs, Eva Biaudet, the president of the National Council of Women of Finland, Katja Iversen, the president and CEO of Women Deliver, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, the former and the first female prime minister of Finland and Dean Peacock, the senior advisor for global advocacy at Promundo.

In 2017, the Government of Finland’s International Gender Equality Prize was awarded to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She directed the prize money to a Nigerian organization that works to stop domestic violence. The organization is using the funds to build a shelter for women. 

Editorial Team