Davos WEF

Davos WEF

Finland's Sanna Marin hopes women leaders will be the 'new normal'

Key Points
  • Sanna Marin, 34, is the world's youngest prime minister. 
  • Her coalition government is made up of five parties, all with female leaders. 
Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland at the European Council - Euro Summit - EU leaders meeting.
NurPhoto

Sanna Marin, the world's youngest prime minister, hopes that the election of female leaders will not get as much attention in the future but would be considered the "new normal."

Marin, 34, was speaking about the global reaction to her inauguration as Finland's leader in December, on a panel about gender equality at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos.

"Actually I didn't focus on the media attention so much," she said, pointing out that five parties in Finland's coalition government are all led by women and four of these leaders are under the age of 35.

Marin also highlighted that she was not Finland's first female prime minister — Anneli Jäätteenmäki was the first woman to be elected to the role in 2003 and Mari Kiviniemi took office in 2010.

"Maybe it's not that big of a deal in Finland that we have five women in power … But it means something that the media and global community is talking about it," said Marin.

When asked how Finland's female-led government now worked, the prime minister joked that it operated in the same way as a political office dominated by men, that they did not "meet in female locker rooms and have locker room talk."

Marin went on to argue that it was not just gender equality that improved political policy globally but a more general diversity of leaders, in offering "different angles" in the decision-making process.

At the same time, she said having women leaders was not only better for women but also for men. In fact, Finland's gender equality minister is a man, Thomas Blomqvist.

Despite being considered as a "pioneering" country for gender equality, Marin admitted Finland still had someway to go to achieve parity.

This included the reform of parental leave, as she said "too few fathers were spending time with their children while they were young."

Marin split her parental leave in half with her husband, each spending six months out of work with their daughter.

But she said such policy reform was "benefiting everybody, so we need everybody on board."

She added that it was also important to realize the world was not always working in a progressive way, that "we all have to fight each and every day for equality, for a better life, as there are things happening in the world going backwards."

The prime minister said this was why she got into politics in the first place, through the realization that it was not somebody else's job to enact change.

Marin had previously made headlines for her suggestion that Finland should switch to a four-day working week, when she was minister of transport back in August last year.

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