It came as a surprise to the whole world when Finland’s Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister recently and although some might not be surprised because Finland is counted among the best countries in the world for women and in terms of equality. However, in a world that is run by men, this is a massive achievement even for a country like Finland. Another unusual development is that she will be heading a coalition with four other parties that will be all lead by women, out of which three of them are in the 30s. Marin who is being celebrated by people all over the world has also incurred the wrath of a few other misogynist politicians, one of whom branded her a “salesgirl”.
Finland too is struggling with right-wing populists
Described as ‘a talented politician known for her leadership skills whose progressive program stresses combating climate change, protecting the country’s famous social protections like health care and reaching out to young people’, she has come at a time when Finland too is struggling in the fight against right-wing populists and in this age of Trump. Marin is part of a small group of women leaders who are aiming to tackle the problem of populism, and just like fellow prime minister Jacinda Ardern, she too is a new mother; she gave birth to a daughter in 2018. She also will be the third woman leader of Finland, however, not only is she a woman, but she is also young, but according to her, “I have not actually ever thought about my age or my gender.” Although this might sound strange to the rest of the world, note that Finland and other Nordic countries are far ahead of so many developed countries like the US, where they are still asking whether women leaders can be “likable” enough to serve the country.
“For me, people have always been equal. It’s not a matter of opinion.”
“The reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate,” added Marin. Interestingly, not only is she the daughter of a single mother, but she is also later the became the child of single-sex parents and therefore, her upbringing in an LGBTQI family has definitely shaped her political values. “For me, people have always been equal. It’s not a matter of opinion. That’s the foundation of everything.” However, her leadership has not been able to be well-digested by everyone even as the leader of Estonia’s populist far-right party EKRE, Mart Helme said of her, “Now we see how one sales girl has become a Prime Minister and how some other street activists and non-educated people have also joined the cabinet.” In response to this Marin said, “I’m extremely proud of Finland. Here a poor family’s child can educate themselves and achieve their goals in life. A cashier can become even a Prime Minister.”
Image credit: Politico.eu