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Sustainable development cannot be achieved without gender equality

During the summer abortion rights have come up in public discussion. We all have the right to personal convictions and values, and opinions based on them. Finland’s Development Policy, however, has to be based on values and choices that will lead to sustainable development.

In its Report on Development Policy the government has given centrality to the rights of women and girls. In addition, in its last report the Development Policy Committee stated that Finland must commit to the EU’s Gender Action Plan and its goal having gender equality a priority in 85 % of all new development projects by 2020.

Gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable development, and for equality to be realized, the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls need to be at the core of all action. In addition, we need to take in to account that sexual and reproductive rights cannot be fully realized, if women don’t have access to affect for example the policies and laws concerning sexual health. Therefore, we need to also emphasize and support women’s civil and political rights.

Sustainable development cooperation supports the building of equal societies

The rights of women and girls as well as supporting gender equality are also on the official agenda of Finland’s International Human Rights Policy. Sexual and reproductive health is a wide concept that includes everything from safe deliveries to ending female genital mutilation. It also includes the right to access safe abortions. In several countries that Finland works, teenage pregnancies are the biggest reason why girls to drop out of school. Examples from countries where abortions are illegal tell us that abortions are still performed. With no access to safe abortions women resort to solutions that can result in death.

Sustainable development cooperation supports the building of equal societies, where women have the right to rule over their own bodies. Stable and equal societies are built on rights and responsibilities, which create individual freedom. Finland’s official development cooperation should not encourage anyone to have an abortion, but support developing societies so they can guarantee their citizens the rights needed for a better life. These also include the freedom of speech and opinion.

The biggest concerns for Finnish development aid are the government’s historical cuts to funding. Finland has committed to the UN’s goal of reaching 0,7% of GNP   but the cuts by the government have taken us in the opposite direction. The next government should draw up a timeline for how and when to reach this goal.

Silvia Modig
The writer is a Member of Parliament for the Left Alliance.

* Demo Finland regularly publishes columns by representatives of its member parties. The views expressed in the columns are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Demo Finland. 

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