29 March, 2017

A Finnish man is already equal enough

Our General Manager Jukka and our Hotel Manager Thomas recently took part in a seminar about equality. Upon entering the seminar, they noticed there were, besides some of the staff and themselves, only a few men attending. The seminar was good and insightful, but the homogeneous nature of the audience made us wonder: Where do men stand when equality is discussed? Are men not interested in equality, or is it so that their stances are left unnoticed?

Or maybe it’s that we consider equality to be a topic concerning only women and minorities? Yle’s Kioski revealed in January that of the 100 equality acts that are to be done this year in Finland, none pertain to men.

It would be great if men in Finland wouldn’t feel discriminated against. And it would be naïve to think that it’s true. That is why we want to present two factors in our country that affect men’s equality.

We want to stress that talk of matters of equality between different groups shouldn’t devolve in arguments about who’s got it worst in our society. Both women and men feel that they are discriminated against in Finland. This blog defends men’s right to talk about these issues without taking anything away from the experiences of women or transgender persons.

Conscription

In Finland, all men between ages 18-60 are liable for military service. Every year over 20000 young men start their military services or non-military services, which last from 165 to 347 days. While these young men use a year of their lives in the military, women of their age are starting their careers or going to college.

Conscription is not equal to all. For 20 years now, women have had the choice of volunteering for military service or simply not going, while a man who refuses to do any kind of military service is faced with a prison sentence.

Columnist Rosa Meriläinen wrote in Helsingin Sanomat that “a liability that involves only men is discriminating against men”. We think that the Finnish society would ready to reconsider if our Finnish conscription is truly a general one, or a discriminating one.

Family leaves

It is said that no mother regrets spending the most amount of time possible with their newborn child. If this is true, isn’t it also true that that time would be equally valuable to fathers? A mother and a father should both have equal opportunities to get to know their child from the very start.

In December, we wrote about how we wish that the challenges arising from starting a family while working would not only fall on young women. One solution to this would be a more equal divide of family leave between parents. This new divide would help women in the workplace, and would also give fathers time to spend with their children.

Recently, many political parties have brought up the issue of updating family leaves. Besides the division of family leaves, there are also other issues worth of discussion. For example, in the current model the father receives KELA’s benefits only if he lives with the mother of the child or children.

Equality means that everyone should have the same rights and responsibilities regardless of their gender. Being born a man should not put anyone in an unequal position in our society. We at Helka believe that a 100-year-old Finland is ready to discuss male equality as well.

What do you think? Is there room for talk about male equality in our society?

People of Helka