Demo Finland’s project Mobilizing Youth for Gender Equality was launched earlier this year in Nepal. In September, Demo’s staff in Helsinki was very happy to welcome the project’s coordinator, Sarika Jaiswal, in Finland for a five-day visit. The aim of the visit was to get to know Finnish women’s organisations and political party actors.
In the beginning of her visit, Jaiswal participated in a guided tour in the Finnish Parliament and in a seminar on women’s co-operation in politics as one of the panellists. The seminar was organised by Demo Finland and the Network of women members of the Finnish Parliament. In the seminar, Sarika Jaiswal had the opportunity to hear about the networking of Finnish women politicians and to talk about women’s participation in decision-making with the former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen. Jaiswal promised to pass on the President’s greetings and her advice to the women Jaiswal is working with in Nepal.
Jaiswal also familiarized herself to gender work in Finland by visiting the National Council of Women of Finland, the Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations, Ombudsman for Equality and the Multicultural Women’s Association. Different campaigns by the organisations as well as the Finnish legislation on equality interested Jaiswal. “I was surprised to hear that even in Finland women still face a lot of challenges when it comes to gender equality. From Nepal, it always seems like everything is so well in here”, she said after discussions with Finnish gender activists.
In addition, Sarika Jaiswal met with representatives of Finnish political parties’ women’s organisations in their own events as well as in the meeting of Demo’s gender working group, where experiences and thoughts were shared among the participants. Jaiswal also met members of Finnish political youth and student organisations, many of whom already had connections to and interest in Nepal.
Besides the visits and working in Demo’s office, the programme of Jaiswal’s visit also included a meeting in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and of course some sightseeing in Helsinki, the maritime fortress of Suomenlinna being one of the destinations despite the cold winds that were blowing during the visit.