Nordic ministers publish open letter on equal rights 

The ministers will use an upcoming summit in Kenya to call for more concrete action on equality, and for everyone to have the right to decide over their own bodies.

File picture of Ville Skinnari (SDP), November 2019 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Trade Ville Skinnari (SDP) has joined his counterparts from the other Nordic countries to publish an open letter about their concerns for deteriorating rights for women.

“The advancement of women’s rights and empowerment has been vital to the development of our societies and have made it possible for our entire populations to participate in the labour force and in building our economies” the ministers write.

They add that the social and economic benefits of gender equality are well known but despite this hundreds of millions of women lack access to modern contraceptives; every day 33,000 girls are married off as child brides, and every day 830 women die in childbirth, or from preventable pregnancy-related complications or unsafe abortions.

“We are deeply concerned that the right to make informed decisions over one’s own body is under threat in many countries” the ministers say, adding they will highlight this “unfinished business” at an upcoming summit in Nairobi being co-hosted by the United Nations, Kenya and Denmark.

The ministers also say that if every had a right to decide over their own body tens of millions of unintended pregnancies in developing countries would be averted; child marriage would end; and girls would have equal education opportunities and be able to find meaningful paid employment.

“We – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – will continue to be staunch supporters, politically and financially, of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.”