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NCP women's group retracts "lipstick government" criticism

A local NCP women's branch said a majority of female leaders is too one-sided for proper decision-making.

Suomen uusi hallitus poseeraa ryhmäkuvassa järjestäytymisistunnossa valtioneuvoston linnassa
Finland's government poses for a photograph, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin in the middle. Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

The Ostrobothnian chapter of the opposition National Coalition Party's (NCP) women's association is reeling in a statement made Tuesday, in which the local group appeared to criticise Finland's government for having too few men as party leaders.

The statement comes right as Finland's mostly-female government and Prime Minister Sanna Marin are gaining widespread traction in news media around the world.

The Ostrobothnian NCP women said that having so many female leaders was bad for equality and too one-sided for proper decision-making.

"It is a good thing that women have entered politics on a local level and even in the most executive positions," the statement read. "We've switched from a herd of oxen to a lipstick government, but is that the best option?" it continued.

On Wednesday, chair Anna-Maija Renko of the Ostrobothnian women's chapter claimed the statement was not a critique against women in government or female majorities in power.

"I'm quite surprised the message has been flipped like this," Renko said.

National group condemns local stance

The nationwide NCP women's association publicly distanced itself from the opinions of their Ostrobothnian colleagues. Chair and MP Sofia Vikman said the local chapter's views as expressed in their statement do not reflect the official ethos of the national association.

"We are overjoyed that women are in positions of power and that there are female-majority governments and boards in Finland. We are proud that women have opportunities to become leaders of their country. The issues, know-how and actions are what matter," Vikman said on Twitter.

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Finland's new government is led by five women. Audio: Yle News

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Local chapter chair Renko said they deliberately used somewhat shocking language to get more views, but that the attention they received was not what they had hoped for.

"Our choice of words could have been better," Renko said.

The previous government under Antti Rinne comprised 11 female and eight male ministers. In Marin's government there are 12 female and seven male ministers. Renko said that her group's statement was about upholding equality.

"The intention was to encourage women to enter politics. The new government is a base for that. If there are only men or only women, it's not a good thing," Renko said.

Renko said that the Ostrobothnian NCP women's association publishes a statement after all of their meetings. Previous ones related to topics such as substance abuse treatment and elder care.

2:58pm: Corrected gender split of Rinne cabinet.

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