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Female politicos: Women still held back by glass ceiling

Female vice-chairs of Finland’s major political parties say that although women have made great strides in politics, they’re still knocking at that invisible glass ceiling.

Yle aamu-tv:n vieraana vasemmalta lukien Annika Saarikko (kesk.) , Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (kok.) sekä Sanna Marin (sd.).
Female vice-chairs on the set of Yle's Aamu-tv breakfast programme Thursday morning. Image: Yle

Ongoing government formation talks have turned out to be exclusively male-dominated territory, as party elections have all returned men to front-line leadership positions.

On Friday morning a group of female vice-chairs told Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme that while men still appear to leading the field, at least the country has moved past certain kinds of gender-based stereotypes, for example in discussions relating to child subsidies.

“I think we’ve moved on from the times when we were stereotyped. Fathers are playing a more important role in the home. Currently in politics we have many members of the generation who have small children at home,” said National Coalition Party vice-chair Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.

The deputy leaders all said that in spite of the gains made, there’s still cause for concern if the topmost ranks of politics show a distinct disparity between the sexes.

“We shouldn't send the signal that in times of economic difficulty a man has to step up,” commented Centre Party deputy chair Annika Saarikko.

The female political heavyweights said that women’s enhanced status in politics is due to pioneers like former president Tarja Halonen. However they point out that women are still to break through the political glass ceiling.

“We are heading in the right direction, but women still labour under the burden of proof, in other words compared to men we need to provide more proof of our capabilities,” Grahn-Laasonen remarked.

“There is a double standard which requires women in particular to show their competence, while we automatically assume that men are capable simply because they’re men,” concluded SDP vice-chair Sanna Marin.

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