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Havis Amanda is wearing the ribbon of Plan International Finland’s campaign for women’s rights on the International Women’s Day in Helsinki, March 8, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

HELSINKI

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day but humanitarian organization Plan International Finland wants to remind people to keep away from smiling.

One should keep a straight face because:

  • Every year 12 million underaged girls become a wife.
  • Every day 190 teenaged girls die during the pregnancy.
  • Every tenth girl in the world has experienced sexual violence.

On Friday morning, Pinja Hirvilammi from Plan International stepped on a boom lift with her co-worker Kalle Heino at the corner of the Market Square.

They were holding a dark ribbon that said: “#DON’TFEELLIKESMILING,” and on the other side, “70,000.”

Pinja Hirvilammi from Plan International places makes fine adjustments to the ribbon that she placed around Havis Amanda’s neck. Co-worker Kalle Heino observes. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

When they got close to Havis Amanda, the famous naked sculpture and highlight of May Day, Hirvilammi carefully placed the ribbon around the statue’s neck.

Figure 70,000 represents the number of teenaged girls who die to complications caused by pregnancy and giving birth yearly.

But among the grim figures, we still have hope. According to Ossi Heinänen, another member of Plan International, “improving the status of girls benefits the whole community and society.” “Girls hold the key position when we want to free ourselves from poverty that has been passed down from one generation to another.”

Tony Öhberg