The Finnish government is presently formulating a statement focused on advancing equality and combating non-discrimination within Finnish society. While numerous civil society entities and scholars have been invited to contribute their insights, the roster of participants in this consultation process remains noticeably incomplete.
While engaging civil society in political matters is crucial, the government’s approach to anti-discrimination communication appears to overlook those who have directly encountered discrimination in Finland. Notably absent from the consultation list are several active anti-racist organizations, Muslim groups, and associations representing individuals of African descent. Curiously, the majority of solicited input seems to originate from organizations with no direct involvement in promoting equality or non-discrimination, such as numerous environmental groups which predominantly consist of members from the white demographic. According to our information, for example the Somali League was belatedly included among the list of commentators following public outcry over the initial list published by Helsingin Sanomat.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the request for written consultation has only been sent in Finnish, a factor that inherently restricts participation for individuals representing communities that experience discrimination. If a comprehensive evaluation of equality in Finnish society is to be achieved, the perspectives of non-native Finnish speakers must be taken into account.
The scope of these consultations and the reliance on the Finnish language alone raise a question of whether the Government’s Communication actually aims to give a comprehensive and accurate picture of the state of equality and non-discrimination in Finnish society. The inadequacies in executing these consultations hint at the statement’s apparent intention to gloss over the government’s issues with racism, rather than genuinely addressing them. This casts doubt on the government’s commitment to authentic anti-discrimination efforts.
Before the government’s anti-discrimination efforts can be deemed credible, it is imperative for them to confront internal racism and align their program with the equitable rights of all individuals. As it stands, the government program fails to even acknowledge racism or LGBTQ+ rights. Instead, it conveys an atmosphere of skepticism towards immigrants and weakens the social support structure. Achieving true equality requires a politically principled leadership that actively champions anti-racism and equality through tangible actions, rather than just denouncing racism under public pressure.
To diversify the voices participating in the statement, the environmental organization Climate Move has asked the African Anti-Racism Society for their perspectives on the matter.