Four of Finland’s Government Leaders Are Women Under 35

Supermajority Education Fund

January 10, 2020

On December 8, Sanna Marin, a member of the left-wing Social Democratic Party, was elected as the prime minister of Finland. Although at 34 years old, she is now the world’s youngest prime minister Marin told a Finnish publication, “I have not actually ever thought about my age or my gender.” She added that she instead thinks of “the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.”

Finland elected its first female prime minister in 2003, and women make up nearly 50 percent of its parliament leadership. In this most recent election, a number of other women were elected as heads of their respective parties, too, including Katri Kulmuni, 32, of the Centre Party; Maria Ohisalo, 34, of the Green Party; Li Andersson, 32, of the Left Alliance; and Anna-Maja Henriksson, 55, of the Swedish People’s Party.

According to the United Nations Women’s website, as of February 2019, only 24.3 percent of all national parliamentarians were women. As of June 2019, only 11 women were serving as Heads of State, and 12 were Head of Government. 

The U.S. notably lags in gender representation in politics: The country ranks 75th in the world when it comes to women’s leadership in politics. 

But in January 2018, there appeared to be a sea change among American women; New York magazine reported that 390 women were planning to run for the House of Representatives, while 49 women had already said they were running for Senate. In January 2019, a record 102 women were sworn into the House of Representatives, while Nancy Pelosi reclaimed her title as Speaker of the House. 

Dr. Mary Nugent, a political scientist, specializing in gender and politics, told Supermajority News that a big reason why the U.S. is behind other countries in its female leadership has to do with the fact that there aren’t enough women across the aisle in Congress. 

 “If the percent of women in Congress were the same as the percent of women in the Democratic House Caucus, for example, the U.S. would be in the top 20 countries for women’s representation (rather than 76th),” she said. 

She added that Finland’s recent victory will hopefully serve as an example for countries that have not yet put a woman in a significant leadership position, such as President of the United States of America. 

“Less than 15 percent of politicians around the world are under 40, and only 2 percent of parliamentarians in the world are under 30,” Nugent said. “I think it’s also important that Sanna Marin’s leadership comes at a time when there are other examples we can point to—Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand and women in Congress like AOC and Lauren Underwood—that means that we are slowly moving towards young women in politics being a norm rather than the exception.”