Girls take over leadership roles again in Plan’s #GirlsTakeover

The theme this year is the impact of the economy on equality and girls’ rights.

Kuusi Planin #GirlsTakeover-nuorta poseeraa sillalla aurinkoisessa säässä.

Girls around the world will take over the positions of political, social and financial leaders as part of the celebration of the International Day of the Girl (11 October). In Finland, girls will take over the positions of the Minister of Finances, the Mayor of Helsinki, Editor-in-Chief of Talouselämä and CEO’s of Stora Enso, LähiTapiola and PwC. This year, Plan International’s #GirlsTakeover highlights current issues related to the impact of the economy on equality and girls’ rights.

This year marks the sixth time that Plan International’s #GirlsTakeover has been arranged in Finland.

Girls and young women involved in Plan’s activities will take over from Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko, Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen, Editor-in-Chief of Talouselämä Jussi Kärki, Stora Enso President and CEO Annica Bresky, LähiTapiola CEO Juha Koponen and PwC Finland CEO Mikko Nieminen.

The girls taking over are Idun Söderlund (15) from Lappeenranta, Aliina Ruuttunen (18) from Jyväskylä, Sofia Salminen (18) from Huittinen, Elli Haaramo (18) from Helsinki,Eedit Ojala (15) from Ilmajoki and Venla Taubert (16) from Tampere.

The theme of this year’s #GirlsTakeover is girls, the economy and equality. Gender equality is a question of human rights, but it also correlates strongly with economic growth. The more equal the country, the higher the gross domestic product. The impact goes both ways: equality affects the economy and the economy affects equality.

“The economy and economic discussion are still gendered, and girls’ voices are not heard in economic discussion. At school, boys and girls are encouraged in different ways to study economics. Girls are, as it were, talked down to about the economy, which discourages rather than encourages them to pursue a degree in economics, for example. The impact of the economy on equality is rarely discussed, and the economy is not considered to be girls’ business,” says Idun Söderlund, who will take over from Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko.

Girls are genuinely involved in decision-making

Policy makers, public authorities, institutions and businesses can take action to promote equality and the opportunities of girls and women to achieve financial independence.

“Several glass ceilings have already been shattered, but we still have work to do. There still isn’t enough room for girls in the economic sphere, even though these issues concern all of us. The economy and financial management are naturally associated with a lot of power, and the way money is spent also speaks volumes about its user’s values and goals. I think it’s important to highlight this,” says Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko.

In each takeover, the economy theme is covered slightly differently. In companies, for example, the young girls taking over also highlight the impact of equality and diversity in working life and the financial sector on the economy.

“Forest sector is traditionally a very male-dominated sector. For this reason, it is essential to make the voices of girls heard in large and international companies in the sector, such as Stora Enso. Stora Enso can also act as a trendsetter for other companies,” says Elli Haaramo, who will step into the shoes of Stora Enso’s CEO.

“The media plays an important role in the economy. Its task in society is to foster discussion and spread fact-based information. The media serves as a link between decision-makers and citizens. However, with power comes responsibility: whose voice is heard and what is written about,” says Sofia Salminen, who will take over from the Editor-in-Chief of Talouselämä.

Frequent crises hit girls particularly hard

Globally, girls still have fewer opportunities for education and employment than boys because their future is not considered worth investing in.

“Work performed by girls and women remains too often unpaid and invisible due to the lack of appreciation. In the current economic system, equal opportunities to earn enough and achieve financial independence are preconditions for girls and women to be able to make decisions about their own lives,” says Ossi Heinänen, National Director of Plan International Finland. 

Policy makers, public authorities, institutions and businesses can take action to ensure that the position of girls is also secured during crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has lasted for more than two years, the war in Ukraine and the consequent sharp rise in prices, and the climate crisis have all had the strongest impact on those who are most vulnerable. The global hunger crisis deepened by frequent crises hits girls and their families in developing countries hardest.

“Girls are taken out of school before boys if the parents can’t afford the school fees for all of their children. The number of child marriages has begun to increase in several countries as parents have had to resort to extreme means of survival to put food on the table,” Heinänen says.

#GirlsTakeover gives the girls an opportunity to genuinely and significantly influence the decisions made during the day. Globally, girls have taken over thousands of leadership positions in a total of 70 countries since 2016.