16-year-old Aava Murto to take over from Prime Minister Sanna Marin as part of the Girls Takeover campaign by Plan International
In October, girls around the world will step into the shoes of political, social and financial leaders as part of the UN’s International Day of the Girl. In Finland, girls and young women will take over the positions of eight leaders, including Prime Minister Sanna Marin. This year’s Girls Takeover will highlight the impact of technology on equality.
This year’s Girls Takeover campaign by Plan International, organised now for the fourth time in Finland, will highlight the impact of technology on the position and future of girls.
“It’s important to increase girls’ technology skills because technology is taking on an increasingly essential role in our changing world. Girls and women are easily excluded from technological development and technology skills,” says Aava Murto, the 16-year-old from Vääksy who will take over from Prime Minister Sanna Marin in this year’s campaign.
For this year’s campaign, Plan International Finland has invited institutions and companies whose work can help promote equality in technology. In addition to the Prime Minister, the participants in the campaign include President of Aalto University Ilkka Niemelä, Editor-in-Chief of Demi magazine Päivi Lehtomurto, F-Secure CEO Samu Konttinen, Futurice CEO Teemu Moisala, Editor-in-Chief of MTV Uutiset Tomi Einonen, Oulu University Rector Jouko Niinimäki and Rovio CEO Kati Levoranta.
Their positions will be taken over by eight girls and young women aged 14–19 from different parts of Finland.
The digital gender divide puts girls in a vulnerable position
The rapid digital transformation of our world and the imbalances in technological development widen the digital gender divide. Globally, the percentage of women using the Internet is almost 17 per cent lower than that of men. In the least developed countries, the difference can be as large as nearly 43 per cent.
The digital gender divide is particularly wide if we take a look at the percentage of girls and women as developers of technology. Technology companies are mostly run by men, and men are also in charge of developing applications and technological solutions that do not sufficiently take into account the needs of girls and women.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin notes that there is a lot of work to be done around the world to bridge the digital gender divide.
“Here in Finland, we must leverage our strong national competence related to the digital transformation and more broadly in the area of new technology and innovation, also when it comes to equality. Innovations must make new technologies accessible to everyone, not not deepen the digital divide within countries and societies. They must serve the reduction of inequality as technologies reshape working life and societies,” Prime Minister Marin says.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of technology
Plan International’s Girls Takeover campaign has been a great success both in Finland and internationally. Last year, approximately 1,800 leaders in about 60 countries around the world gave up their position for a day as part of the campaign.
The symbolic campaign calls attention to discrimination against girls, but also the tremendous potential they have. The aim is to give the participating girls the opportunity to genuinely and significantly influence the decisions made during the takeover day. The preparations for the campaign began in the spring.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the importance of technology to an even greater role. While technological solutions made remote schooling accessible for the vast majority of children in Finland, in many countries around the world the pandemic meant that children were left completely or almost completely without education.
“To ensure that girls and women are not left behind in global development, they need to be offered equal opportunities to use and develop technology. That is the only way we can make sure that girls can have their voices heard in our rapidly digitalising world,” says Ossi Heinänen, Secretary General of Plan International Finland.
“Without the input of girls and women, we risk creating tools and solutions that deepen the existing discriminatory structures and shift the inequality of the physical world into the digital realm. It also means that we would waste the potential of half of the world’s population,” Heinänen adds.